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Bill Clinton speech: Has he become Obama's defender-in-chief? (+video)

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“He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs,” said Clinton. “Conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the president’s contract, you will feel it.”

The last president to preside over sustained economy growth also summed up the Democratic attempt to blame things on Bush, though he didn’t invoke Bush’s name directly.

“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s reelection was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in.”

Then he turned to a sustained attack on the GOP, of the I’m-doing-this-more-in-sadness-than-in-anger variety. He tried to make a case that Obama has been willing to compromise and work across the aisle, in the process using the fact of his wife Hillary’s appointment as Secretary of State as evidence that the incumbent is willing to work with his political foes. Of course she’s a Democrat, but you’d hardly have noticed that if you were caught up in the rhythm of Clinton’s argument.

He defined the GOP as a party controlled by its right wing and driven, not just by opposition to Obama, but by hatred.

“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport,” he said, to audience cheers.

And then the policy wonk appeared, and Clinton went point by point through the GOP’s arguments against Obama. On Medicare, he noted the VP nominee Paul Ryan’s budget contained the same reductions in expenditures as Obama pushed through with the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Ryan and nominee Mitt Romney now decry those reductions as dangerous to the program.

“It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did,” said Clinton.

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