TOPICS > Politics

Clinton, Warren Rev Up DNC Crowd for Main Event: Obama to Take Stage

September 6, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
Threat of bad weather pushed the culminating event of the convention -- the nomination acceptance speech by President Obama -- inside, prompting improvisation to accomodate crowds and change the program. Prominent Democratic figures like President Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Warren addressed the convention Wednesday.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the main event of course tonight is the appearance by the president himself. The audience here may be smaller than originally planed, but the campaign hopes his message will energize voters across the country.

It was all about more security and fewer seats as Democrats in Charlotte made ready for President Obama’s big address tonight. A possible thunderstorm forecast led to the shift from the 73,000-capacity Bank of America Stadium back to the 20,000-seat Time Warner Arena.

The vice chair of the Democratic National Committee dismissed Republican suggestions that Democrats couldn’t fill stadium seats.

R.T. RYBAK (D), Mayor of Minneapolis, Minn.: You have to have safety first. And you also have to make sure that now — just a few hours before it’s going to happen, nobody has a clue whether it’s going to rain or not. Well, when you look at all the preparations, security and all of that, you just can’t turn on a dime.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This afternoon, President Obama spoke by conference call with some of the thousands of volunteers who will be shut out because of the change.

The president himself made his first appearance at the arena at the tail end of last night, as former President Clinton finished his rousing endorsement.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-Miss.): It is our hope that instructs us to march on!

JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier in the night, others built the case for President Obama’s reelection.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER: And march on means marching through our communities to make sure everyone is registered and ready to vote.

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), Massachusetts Senatorial Candidate: He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable, where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: But it was former President Clinton who was the true star of the night, passionately peppering an often improvised speech with his signature one-liners.

BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States: I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside…

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: … but who burns for America on the inside.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: And with the business of officially nominating aside, he began a takedown of Republican arguments one by one, starting with jobs.

BILL CLINTON: We Democrats, we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it, with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity.

You see, we believe that “We’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “You’re on your own”!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: So, who’s right?

Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs.

So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million, Democrats 42!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: He hit on welfare, health care, Medicaid and Medicare, calling out Republicans for misrepresenting the facts.

BILL CLINTON: Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as — quote — “the biggest, coldest power play,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

(LAUGHTER)

BILL CLINTON: … because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: You got to give one thing: It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: He poked fun at how the Republicans characterized the Democrats at their convention a week ago.

BILL CLINTON: In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president reelection was actually pretty simple, pretty snappy. It went something like this: “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”

(LAUGHTER)

JUDY WOODRUFF: And he answered the Republicans’ question, are you better off?

BILL CLINTON: Now, are we where we want to be today? No. Is the president satisfied? Of course not.

But are we better off than we were when he took office?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: Listen to this. Listen to this.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: Everybody’s forgotten…

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON: When President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in freefall. It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: After 45 minutes, President Clinton boiled down the choice:

BILL CLINTON: My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we’ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in.

If you want a winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: Delegates on the floor were enthralled during the speech, and energized after it.

ANGELA WILLIAMS (D), Delegate: It was like going to a baseball game and hitting a home run. He hit all of the issues.

CARLOS URESTI (D), Texas State Senator: President Clinton pointed out all the discrepancies I thought that the Republican Party has been trying to claim and blame on President Barack Obama, but obviously it was very clear by President Clinton’s speech that that’s simply not true.

And, as he pointed out, no one could have fixed these problems overnight. They didn’t happen overnight, so they can’t be fixed overnight.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, vendors were doing a brisk business, as thousands of people streamed toward the arena in a carnival-like atmosphere ahead of tonight’s main event, President Obama’s speech.