Former President Clinton forcefully endorsed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House on Wednesday, telling delegates to the Democratic convention that Obama is “ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world.”
Clinton pushed back on attacks — initiated by himself and his wife during the bitter primary campaign, and later taken up by Republican John McCain — that Obama is ill-prepared for the White House, especially on matters of national defense.
“With Joe Biden’s experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama’s proven understanding, insight and good instincts, America will have the national security leadership we need,” Clinton said.
Clinton campaigned feverishly for his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her long-fought primary battle against Obama, and took her loss hard. He had not spoken out as strongly in support of Obama since he clinched the nomination in June.
But Wednesday, he was unambiguous in passing the torch of Democratic leadership to Obama.
Jabbing a finger at thousands of cheering delegates, he declared: “I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.”
Running just over 20 minutes, the speech by the godfather of the Democratic Party whipped thousands of delegates into an exuberant frenzy. Where a night before they had hoisted “Hillary” banners, on this night they waved American flags.
The delegates stood on their feet and roared for nearly 3 1/2 minutes when Clinton walked on stage. The former president basked in their affection, but after several false starts at his speech, commanded: “Sit down!”
Clinton was by turns funny, nostalgic and wonkish, touching on issues like health care and pension benefits.
Clinton, ever mindful of himself, likened Obama’s presidential quest to his own bid for the presidency in 1992, when “Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander in chief.”