Will Bill Clinton's Convention Speech Help Obama?

In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, the former president will make the case for President Obama's re-election.

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Former President Bill Clinton will give a primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention in September, the Democratic National Committee formally announced Monday. Democrats hope Clinton will be able to articulate why President Obama is the right economic choice for the country, and make a strong case for his re-election.

Clinton remains an extremely popular president and an engaging speaker, and his selection demonstrates the measures Democrats are willing to take to sell Obama to voters. David Axelrod, a top strategist to the Obama campaign, said Clinton had the perfect political perspective to deliver such a critical speech:

There isn't anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton … He can really articulate the choice that is before people.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Obama personally asked the former president to speak and formally place Obama's name into nomination at the convention in Charlotte, N.C.  Because of its proximity to Labor Day, the Democrats have a restricted convention schedule this year, having to squeeze four days worth of speeches into just three. Vice President Joe Biden and Obama will speak on the same night, with Clinton placing the nomination in his speech the night before.

Axelrod said:

To have President Clinton on Wednesday night laying out the choice facing voters, and then having Vice President Biden speak right before the president in primetime on Thursday, giving a testimony to the decisions the president has made, the character of his leadership and the battle to rebuild the middle class that's so central to our message.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

Clinton is an inspiring speaker, to be sure, but many Americans have become disillusioned with a president who promised change and instead has governed over high unemployment, a collapsed housing market, expensive wars, and a ballooning federal deficit. The economy is the largest hurdle facing Obama in his race against Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, who argues the president has shown he's incapable of improving conditions. Even with Clinton's endorsement, the president may be unable to convince voters he's still the man for the job.

Clinton has been enthusiastically campaigning for Obama this year, although he has not always supported the current president. Clinton initially opposed Obama in 2008 when his wife Hillary was also running for the Democratic nomination.  

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