Former President Bill Clinton's speech on Wednesday evening has the potential to have a huge impact on the tone of the Democratic Convention, so expect fireworks on Night 2 in Charlotte. Clinton is likely to call out the RNC on welfare and health care issues, which many Democrats say that Republicans are telling blatant lies about.
If last night's speeches are any judge, Democrats are in for a treat on the second night of the Convention, which will also feature speeches from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and women's activist Sandra Fluke. On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama truly nailed it, presenting herself as the more commanding and heartfelt speaker to Mitt Romney's wife Ann Romney.
Michelle delivered a speech that focused in on policy, a welcome change from the RNC speeches last week. Her speech easily could have been too personal, too lofty for a country of unemployed workers and frustrated voters, but it just seemed to hit all right notes at the right time.
Several of the other speakers from Tuesday night also had notable highlights. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the same 'bootstraps and immigrant' storyline as Rubio, but he did include specific policies; he talked about Obama more than Rubio did about Romney it seemed. It took him a while to find the rhythm - his 'speech legs,' but he closed it well and unlike Chris Christie, he wasn't nearly as politically selfish.
One speech that most people might have missed was from Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. It was an open condemnation of Romney. If you are looking for an aggressive face of the Democratic Party, the underlying anger which effectively couples Romney with the whole of the GOP, extremes and all - take a look here. Romney made a huge mistake saying he was 'severely conserative' as a Governor because look to lower level Dems to push on that until the breaking point, but outside of the limelight.
Bill Clinton's speech comes one day before President Obama's speech to the convention, which will likely have shades of 2008, with lofty rhetoric designed to inspire. Vice President Joe Biden will also be speaking on Thursday in his nomination acceptance address.
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UPDATES: THURSDAY For live coverage of Barack Obama and Joe Biden's speeches on Thursday evening, follow along here.
Here's the video of his speech:
Thoughts on the night: Overall the speakers prior to the 10pm hour didn't really match the electricity of the night before, but they were solid surrogates for Obama and that was they needed to be. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver and Sister Simone Campbell got some of the louder cheers of the night. It was not a night for rhetoric or emotion like Night 1 was, but time to talk specifics, something campaign and administration has needed to do for a long time. Halfway through the evening I wondered when we were going to talk about what was weighing on people's minds: Jobs. Critics came and were answered in the form of Elizabeth Warren and the star of the night, former Presdient Bill Clinton.
In an interesting move, Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law Student who stood up for a woman's right to basic health care and then was skewered by several right-wing media persona, was moved to the 10pm hour. I wondered if the decision was the right one. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, and Libby Bruce did the smart thing and talked about the many non-abortion related services Planned Parenthood offers. They achieved the goal of making the closing of PP as the closing a community health center. Sandra Fluke, though, is quite a bit more divisive. Her speech had some salient points (see below) and was brief, so no real damage done.
Warren, a Senate candidate from Massachusetts who is 5 points behind her opponent Scott Brown, was the answer to those who claim the President bent too much to Wall Street. She fought for consumer protection and she had a quiet fire about her last night. Warren, channeling the populism of Clinton, reminded voters of who they thought Barack Obama used to be, a true liberal who wouldn't play politics. People needed to see her to be reminded more of why they vote Democrat, not necessarily why they would vote for Obama. Warren represents what the party wants to be in Washington. It was actually a brilliant move that mirrors their strategy of tying Romney to the rest of the GOP, associating him with the extreme right wing.
And then came Bill Clinton. Tradtionally, the Vice President speaks on the second night of the convention, as candidate Paul Ryan had. That would have put President Clinton's speech on the same night as President Obama and as you saw, he would have completely overshadowed Obama. The speech was brilliantly populist in that 'country boy' way Clinton has about him, but it was an intellectual classroom lesson that voters needed. For days I have been saying the Convention needed to do what the campaign had not been doing for the past six months, provide a systematic, point by point, numbers-based answer to every single critique from the GOP. Accomplishments would need to be touted, and they would need to be done in this way. The speech was 48 minutes long and everyone was listening, even on Twitter until the very end:
He was quite possibly the best surrogate Barack Obama could have asked for in this time of polarization. Essentially, comparing his first term's economic woes and say "people don't feel [the recovery] yet despite what the numbers tell us. Give us four more years, and you will. You will feel it." His concepts were so simple but connected to that undecided, frustrated, iin debt, and/or unemployed voter very effectively. Here's the full text, though double this was riffed in true Clinton style.
It was policy heavy without losing the audience, but this was the kind of Willy Wonkery the campaign needed. It was substance over sheer emotion.
Some were worried it would turn into a Hilary 2016 campaign speech, but every point, every story was always related back to the administration. Some of the biggest cheers of the speech were for Biden and Michelle Obama. He made sure to play up the 'peacemaker' personality people really wanted to see from Obama by saying, "heck, he even appointed Hilary!"
In a deft move, knowing the powerful charisma Clinton would have over a captive audience, the end of the speech saw Obama himself come to the stage. The photo op was a classic one for history of the two Presidents embraced and smiling.
Did Clinton overwhelm the DNC in the way Clint Eastwood did? Yes, but as a surrograte for Obama throughout the speech, a role he never seemed to forget.
11:27pm: 48 minutes and everyone was listening. Highlights to come soon.
11:20pm: Need systematic point-by-point analysis in a folksy way? Call Bill Clinton.
"We simply can't afford to double down on trickle down"
11:03pm: Truth. These numbers, these specifics are what I have been saying the DNC needs. And on Day 1. Best speech of the convention in terms of appealing to independent and undecided voters in my opinion.
10:59pm: Crowd is responding well. Clinton is careful not to call it a 'bailout,' but the 'auto industry restructuring.' Assigning job scores with numbers and essentially comparing parts of his first term with POTUS' in terms of job creation, feeling like the economy is turning around despite what the numbers say.
10:50pm: Lots of gems in this speech. Bubba is comfortable and connecting in a way few politicians are able to do. Attacking GOP instead of personal attacks. Once again, the smart strategy of associating Romney with the party as a whole - extremes and all.
Going into some jobs numbers - key from now on in the campaign.
10:41pm: "I never learned to hate [Republicans]" the way Republicans hate POTUS - Bill Clinton
He goes on to cite several of his bipartisan efforts. "We focus on solving problems...and not fighting all the time."
"What's good politics does not often work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation." - And there you have it. (Rahm Emanuel just puked.)
10:39pm: "I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama" - Clinton knows Hilary is good for him and bidding for Spouse2016.
He's giving numbers. He has the innate ability to boil down economic facts into easily digestible sound bites. This is where he shines.
10:34pm: Wow. Bill IS UP!
10:30pm: Here's the crux of Warren's populist message. Rings of tones of '90s Clinton.
10:15pm: Huge cheers for Elizabeth Warren.
"I never thought I would be the warm-act for Bill Clinton" "He married one of the coolest women."
10:13pm: True. But no woman deserves to be called what she was called publicly, multiple times just because she has an opinion and doesn't back down from it.
"It's not the language I would use" is not the response women were seeking.
Fluke: "Birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." She notes that when POTUS heard about attacks on Sandra, he thinks of his "daughters, not his delegates. not his donors."
Amidst criticsm that POTUS has pandered entirely too much to Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, Senate candidate from Massachusetts, famous for taking on Wall Street is set to speak soon.
10:00pm: Sandra Fluke is moved to the 10pm prime time slot. Interesting move on the DNC's part. The emphasis is clearly on women this convention and I can't say I mind.
Of course, Ann Coulter had to put in her cheap two cents.
Sign being held up by delegate:
9:44pm Putting a face on Mitt Romney's Bain Capital. It's no longer just a company, it's the group of workers who were laid off due to Bain takeover that are on stage right now. Playing to the insecurity older workers feel about being laid off so close to retirement.
But is it working?
9:34pm: Lots of Ohio representation today. Karen Eusanio is a member of UAW, Auto workers union.
9:28pm: The CEO of Carmax is speaking right now, Austin Ligon. An interesting choice to talk about the car industry and Detroit. I'm wondering why they didn't just have someone from GM speak.
9:25pm: Cristina Saralegui up now. Here's her bio for those of us who may not be familiar with her. She's quite the media star.
Throughout the convention there has been a lot of language attempted at acknowledging Hispanic-Americans and the LGBT community. Sometimes it seemed a bit forced, but noteworthy nonetheless.
9:20pm: Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC just reported that POTUS will be at the Convention tonight.
9:16pm: For the first time ever an undocumented immigrant (and valedictorian and double major at St. Mary's University), Benita Veliz, is speaking at a national Convention. She says "President Obama fought for my community."
9:09pm California Atty General Kamala Harris calling out Romney, saying his wanting to let Detroit go bankrupt is "not leadership."
Attacking Romney on not believing the American dream is not for everyone, but only a select few.
8:51pm: She and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver may have gotten the biggest cheers of the night.
8:46pm: Sister Simone Campbell: "And I'm one of the nuns on the bus." Don't mess with nuns, especially when they are trying to help the poor and sick, haven't you ever seen Sister Act?! "I am my sister's keeper. I am my brother's keeper." Essentailly says Ryan is wrong to say the budget reflects our nation's values. Paul Ryan is Catholic.
People are standing and cheering loudly for Sister Simone. "Listen to one another, rather than yell at each other." "Join us on the bus!" "We care for the 100%!"
8:39pm: Madeleine Albright was just on MSNBC speaking about the "jerusalem" inclusion in the Democratic platform. See below for the video link.
Out of his 4,000 word speech last Thursday night, approximately one hundred words were dedicated to foreign policy. Here's a point by point breakdown oh his speech and supposed policy.
8:32pm: General and current Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki is up on stage. As you may know he was a General during the Bush administration, he was publicly refuted by Donald Rumsfeld and the President when he warned against invading Iraq with such a low number of troops. Here's a 2007 New York Times piece telling part of his story.
This was obviously no coincidence, Shinseki's history is a direct play into the Administration's efforts to highlight the accomplishment of ending combat operations in Iraq.
8:30pm: I have to say though, whoever produced that RNC Romney video didn't just deserve prime time coverage, but also some sort of award. It could not have been easy to make Romney seem relateable and that video did just that. None of the DNC videos have had that impact, but the speakers have.
8:26pm: Video about veterans airing now. I wonder when the DNC decided that they would air this video because it seems like a direct response to the RNC's complete lack of acknowledgement of military and war. And Iraq and Afghanistan.
Perhaps also a nod to the criticism that Obama is not a real Commander in Chief.
8:13pm: On a side note, it's 2012. No woman should have to fight for birth control.
8:08pm Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood President is up now. It would be good for her to talk about all the services PP offers women who are low-income or just under or un-insured that are NOT abortion-related. People need to see that PP is much more than that; it's a community health center.
8:07pm: On stage now is Libby Bruce, a new mother with endometriosis. She's speaking about going to Planned Parenthood for medical procedures that have nothing to do with abortion.
8:02pm: Jessica Sanchez, killing.it.as usual. And God's Appointed Choir. God was happy to be included in the Democratic platform earlier today and thus appointed diversity and made it a lovely performance.
7:49pm: Pell grant recipient and student, Johanny Adams speaks about her experience. She just became a citizen in February and will be casting her first vote in November.
7:43pm: Education Secretary Arne Duncan is up on stage, saying "POTUS saved the jobs of 400,000 educators." I hope Wisconsin is watching and will vote accordingly.
Duncan notes that the 20% budget cut in the Romney/Ryan plan would result in "200,000 fewer children in Head Start," fewer programs for students with disabilities, fewer Pell Grants.
Also, Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC Contributor and Washington Post columnist, made a very interesting point:
7:40pm: "Millions of Americans know, we are just one medical catastrophe from financial" ruin. Senator Mikulski speaks to healthcare and the range of the platform.
7:35pm: Senator Barbara Mikulski came out on stage with Sens. Gillibrand, Murray, other Democratic women of the Senate. "I was the first, but I made sure I wasn't the only." Definitely playing on Michelle Obama's theme of last night.
7:25pm: "Our democracy is on the ballot" Her catch phrase is now, "It's just plain wrong" A nod to the lack of fact-checking on the second night of the RNC, when Paul Ryan gave his speech.
7:20pm: "Drive for 25, 25 seats to win back the House" Nancy Pelosi gets right to work. And there it is: "President Obama has focused on jobs...gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month" to adding millions of private sector jobs in the last 29 months.
"We made college more affordable." With all do respect to Mrs. Pelosi, no Democrats did not make it more affordable, you made it a bit more affordable to borrow money to pay for college. Expect GOP to jump on that statement.
"When you go to the polls, vote FOR Medicare." "Vote for Social Security"
7:08pm Fun-not-so-fun Fact: Charlotte is a non-union town in a non-union state. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, is now speaking.
7:00pm: Dan Malloy, Governor of Connecticut is going through the numbers. Running down the Ryan budget promises and contrasting it with saying Democrats will not cut infrastructure and healthcare investments, calling the Ryan budget 'harsh' and 'Mitt Romney's raw deal.' "A budget isn't a bunch of numbers, but a document that reflects our values." Speaking to how Democratic Governors believe in cutting costs and efficiency, but not if the social costs outweigh financial ones.
"You sister, your mother, and your daughter," are cited as the three reasons to vote for Obama.
His speech is definitely one to watch and I will post the video here as soon as it is available.
6:50pm Could Clinton be Obama's best surrogate at the Convention and beyond? Clinton is perhaps the best campaigner and speaker American politics has seen, but will he campaign for Bill Clinton?
In an interview today with Brian Williams of NBC's Nightly News, Clinton remarked, "we haven't been good friends for a long time or anything like that...I respect him.. I've seen him digging in the dirt and fighting...I appreciate how he has treated Hiliary with an enormous amount of respect."
6:40pm Members of the Congressional Black Caucus on stage now and CA-33 Rep. Karen Bass speaking about voter identification legislation, which disproportionately shuts older, minority voters in many districts.
Rep. Al Green (yes, that's his name) starts obligatory 'USA!' chant but also makes salient points about a strong middle class.
6:20pm: Slated to speak tonight in addition to President Bill Clinton are California Assembly Speaker John Perez, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Senator Patty Murray of Washington. Elizabeth Warren is introducing President Clinton. She's going to be a good surrogate for Obama as long as she comes across as strong on stage.
What was lacking last night wasn't energy, but, as I said here, the real test of this Convention is to provide the prime time viewer with specifics. Patrick provided the general emotion, energy, and rallying cry. The policies mentioned last night by Castro and FLOTUS were certainly necessary, but they may have gotten lost in people's gushing over Michelle Obama. I fully admit, she is one political figure I will never be unbiased about.
Every speaker tonight needs to provide facts, numbers, and specific proposed policies. It's the way to combat Romney's 'flip-flops' and the GOP's jobs creation statements. People are still out of work and in debt and coming from Michelle, the soothing and genial "give us time" works. It doesn't seem like it will play as well from any of the actual law makers on stage.
6:10pm: Day 2 began with this. HERE is the video link. As the GOP seized upon missing language from the Democratic platform - mainly the word God and support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Democrats felt the need to correct that. Instead of justifying those points' absence in the first place, those in the party showed how afraid of the 'image' a God-less platform that doesn't explicitly bend towards Bibi Netanyahu they really are. As the Los Angeles Times points out, "It took three attempts to pass the language regarding Jerusalem and a subjective decision by the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to decide the change had the required support of two-thirds of the delegates. To many listeners, the voice vote seemed at least evenly divided." Awkward, to say the least.
5:30pm: Did you miss yesterday's coverage and analysis? Here's the live-blog from the first night of the DNC.
3:54pm For a preview and schedule of Bill Clinton's speech on Wednesday night, see here.
3:30pm It's official, due to poor Charlotte weather, President Obama's major Thursday speech has been moved from the outdoor Bank of America stadium as had been planned, to the disappointment of thousands of supporters. Read more here.