(KISSIMMEE, Fla.) — Portraying harmony like never before, Bill Clinton hailed Barack Obama on Wednesday, a power pairing designed to inspire Democrats already smelling victory.
“Barack Obama represents America’s future, and you’ve got to be there for him next Tuesday,” Clinton, with Obama at his side, said to the cheers of a partisan crowd.
Heaping praise on President Bush’s predecessor, Obama said of Clinton: “In case all of you forgot, this is what it’s like to have a great president.”
Obama even prodded the crowd to cheer more, saying “Bill Clinton. Give it up!” And there was Clinton, laughing with gusto every time Obama jokingly mocked rival John McCain.
He clasped Obama’s hand and held it high when the men came on stage. Clinton made a methodical case for Obama, describing him as a strong thinker with smart policies.
In one of his testimonials, he praised Obama for seeking the advice of experts — including him and his wife — on how to handle the country’s financial crisis before acting.
“Folks, we can’t fool with this,” Clinton said. “Our country is hanging in the balance. And we have so much promise and so much peril. This man should be our president.”
Obama said of the two Clintons: “I am proud to call them my friends.”
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – In a symbolic passing of the Democratic party’s leadership torch, former president Bill Clinton on Wednesday night urged Americans to embrace Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy – saying the United States faces too many challenges to risk another Republican in the White House.
Speaking at an outdoor rally on an unseasonably cold Florida night, Clinton put aside rumours of lingering tension with Obama by saying he was “honoured” to support the Illinois senator’s White House campaign.
“We need a president who wants to understand and who can understand,” Clinton told an overflow audience of several thousand in Kissimmee, a bedroom community south of Orlando, Fla.
“We can’t fool with this. Our country is hanging in the balance. This man should be the president.”
Clinton was the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Florida, in 1996, and has strong ties to the state’s large Jewish population.
With Floridians already casting ballots in record numbers in early voting, Clinton warned Obama’s supporters not to become complacent because of national polls showing the Illinois senator leading Republican John McCain.
“Find the people who are still teetering and wavering, and tell them why they ought to be with us,” he said.
McCain was also campaigning hard Wednesday in Florida. At a rally in Miami, the Republican candidate criticized Obama for saying recently he wanted to “spread the wealth” through his economic plan. He highlighted Obama’s proposal to hike taxes on Americans earning more than $250,000, saying it would be a job killer for small businesses.
“Senator Obama is running to be redistributionist-in-chief.”
In response to McCain’s charge against Obama, Clinton said: “In the last eight years, 90 per cent of the gains went to 10 per cent of the people. Don’t talk to me about redistribution.”
On Wednesday night, Clinton said “the presidential campaign is the greatest job interview in the world” and that in the choice between Obama and McCain, “this is not a close question.”
Obama returned the favour, drawing comparisons between Clinton and outgoing President Bush.
“When you listen to Bill Clinton, you are reminded what it’s like to have a president who is engaged, who is smart . . . who is inclusive rather than divisive,” Obama said.