Clinton works the down-home charm that won the White House – and the packed hall loves it
In the cold light of day, the verdict was just as universally stellar as it had been the night before, when they were packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, beneath the red, white and blue floodlights of that raucous indoor arena.
"Magnificent," chorused one table of delegates eating breakfast at the Convention Centre yesterday. "Extraordinary," declared another. "At my age, I've seen quite a few political speeches," cooed Missy Jefferson, a 75-year-old activist from east Texas. "And I'm telling you, Bill Clinton did last night was the best I've ever seen."
While Republicans fall in line, Democrats are traditionally said to fall in love. And the flames of a romance which began when the honey-voiced "comeback kid" charmed his way into the White House almost 20 years ago are still burning as fiercely as ever.
Mr Clinton put on a remarkable show during the roughly 45 minutes he spent nominating Barack Obama as his party's candidate for US President. Warm and folksy, he offered a ringing endorsement of the incumbent, casting him as a worthy inheritor of his mantle.
He dubbed Obama "a man cool on the outside, but burning for America on the inside" who had "inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, and began the long hard road to recovery". And he billed him as the only man capable of leading an old-fashioned Democratic revival, built on the middle class.
"In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's re-election 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'," Mr Clinton announced, to pantomime giggles. "But I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better."
In the old days, Mr Clinton was sometimes called the "explainer in chief". And while he may not attain Mr Obama's lofty oratory, he is surely a more gifted advocate. "He laid things out in a way everyone can understand," said Wilma Baker, from Virginia. "Young people, old people, rich and poor. That's his gift."
The speech was twice its scheduled length and occasionally untidy, but Mr Clinton's personal touch is perhaps his greatest asset. He called the crowd "folks," described Republican politicking as "a real doozy," and dropped such rhetorical gems as "I'm fixing to tell ya!" Lean, tanned, and with a glint in his eye, his approach was typified by his critique of trickle-down economics. "I'm just a country boy from Arkansas," he said, calling it a place where people "still think two plus two equals four".
The meat, so to speak, was a detailed, 30-minute dissection of the Republican platform. It offered forensic support for Obamacare, and, often citing cumbersome specifics, attacked the Romney campaign's economic platform of "tax cuts for millionaires." In different hands, this might have faltered. But Mr Clinton still knows how to walk the common man through a tangle of complex policy.
"Bubba broke it down, bit by bit, into all the details," said Gary Ramy, from nearby Wilkesboro. "When he talks to an audience, it feels like he's talking directly to me or you."
Mr Clinton and Obama's relationship has not always run smooth. But at the close, they shared a "man hug" which seemed genuinely warm. The only problem, for the younger of the two Presidents, who spent yesterday preparing his own big speech, was that he had a hard act to follow.
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 4 Jozef Wesołowski: Former Catholic archbishop found dead ahead of child sexual abuse trial
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...