Clinton offers impassioned endorsement of Obama
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Former President Bill Clinton has offered a ringing endorsement of President Barack Obama, saying he believes with all his heart that Obama's leadership on the economy will bring it back.
Clinton used a lengthy speech at the Democratic National Convention that was punctuated by frequent applause and laughter to nominate Obama, applaud his accomplishments and attack proposals offered by GOP nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
Clinton accused Republicans of proposing "the same old policies" that led to a near financial meltdown. Using a quote from Ronald Reagan often employed to rebuke Democrats, Clinton said "There they go again." He said the nation "cannot afford to turn the reins of government over to someone who would double down on trickle-down."
Clinton also said Romney's claims that Obama would gut welfare work requirements are simply not true.
The former president was joined on stage by Obama. They embraced while delegates roared. Obama will address the convention on Thursday.
Highlights from former President Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.:
ECONOMY: Clinton said President Barack Obama inherited a much weaker economy than he did when he took office in 1993. No president could have repaired the damage in just four years, he said. "But conditions are improving, and if you'll renew the president's contract you will feel it," Clinton said.
NATIONAL DEBT: Obama's plan to cut the national debt by $4 trillion over the next decade is a balanced approach and a better plan than the one offered by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Clinton said. Romney's plan, which begins with trillions of dollars in tax cuts, makes the debt even bigger, he said. "The numbers don't add up," Clinton said.
JOB CREATION: Democratic presidents have created millions more jobs over the past 52 years than their Republican counterparts, Clinton said. Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House for 28 years and the Democrats for 24 years, he said. The U.S. economy produced 66 million private sector jobs over that period. Forty-two million of them came during Democratic administrations, and 24 million came during Republican administrations, according to Clinton.
AUTO INDUSTRY: Obama's plan to bail out the auto industry worked, Clinton said. There are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry since the restructuring. And that includes jobs not just at General Motors, Chrysler and their dealerships, but at auto parts manufacturing plants across the country, he said. "Gov. Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler," Clinton said. "So here's another jobs score: Obama 250,000, Romney, zero."
HEALTH CARE: Obama's health care overhaul has generated more than $1 billion in insurance premium refunds for individuals and businesses because the law requires the bulk of the premiums to be spent on health care, and not profits or promotion, Clinton said. People between 19 and 25 can be insured on their parent's policies because of the law, he said, and seniors are receiving preventive care.
MEDICARE: Clinton warned that Medicare "will go broke" by 2016 if Romney is elected president and follows through on his plans to repeal the billions of dollars in Medicare savings that Obama built into the health care overhaul. "So President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened it," Clinton said.
WELFARE: Clinton disputed the Republican claim that Obama is rolling back the reforms to the welfare program that Clinton approved when he was president. He criticized the Romney campaign for running television ads that accused Obama of gutting welfare reform even after independent fact checkers had debunked the charge.
BIPARTISANSHIP: Among the reasons Clinton offered for re-electing Obama is his commitment to seeking consensus and cooperation at a time when the political parties are so polarized. Robert Gates, a Bush administration holdover, was Obama's first defense secretary. And Ray Lahood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, is his transportation secretary, Clinton noted. He joked that Obama even made his wife and former Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, his secretary of state.