Upbeat Clinton sets sail on tide of optimism

Shrugging off the scandal which forced out a top aide, and proclaiming to a delirious convention that "hope was back in America", President Bill Clinton headed off for a bus trip through key swing states - kicking off a final nine weeks of all-out campaigning for a second term in the White House.

"Let us go out to the American people with confidence, hope and honest humility" at the challenges ahead, Mr Clinton told party workers as he left Chicago yesterday. "We are on the right track, we're going to do it together." But he warned against any complacency at his big lead in the polls: "It's not over till it's over, this contest is only starting."

By his often dazzling standards on the podium, the President's acceptance speech the previous evening was solid but not spectacular - a blend of lofty language and modest proposals centred on help with higher education fees, aid for families with children and home-sellers, and $3.4bn of tax breaks for employers who take on workers previously on welfare.

Arguing in so many words that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", Mr Clinton listed his achievements and presented himself as the man of the future. "We do not need a bridge to the past," the President said, implicitly underlining the generation gap with his 73-year-old Republican challenger Bob Dole. He drew together his themes of family, diversity, and opportunity into a vision of a "strong, united American community" as the country advanced into the new millennium.

The shadow, of course, is the Dick Morris affair - inconsequential in itself but reminding voters of the sleaze and "character" doubts which have dogged Mr Clinton throughout his presidency. It also obscured what otherwise would have been a convention-week propaganda coup: news that GDP surged 4.8 per cent in the second quarter, the strongest growth since early 1994 and which makes a mockery of Mr Dole's central assertion that the economy is so weak that only a massive tax cut can revive it.

The Republican candidate's "risky" $550bn scheme would simply bring higher interest rates and higher debt, and ultimately send the economy back into recession. Why "bet the country" on the failed policies of the 1980s? "Do we want to weaken the bridge to the 21st century ?" Mr Clinton asked, using a metaphor that featured a dozen times in his hour-long address. "No," came an answering roar from delegates in the United Center sports arena.

Earlier though, those same delegates had been stunned and appalled as word spread of the disgrace of a man who until his shotgun resignation that morning had been the President's chief political adviser, and prime mover behind the centrist strategy that has lifted him to a commanding lead over Mr Dole.

On Thursday evening, Mr Clinton did not refer directly to Mr Morris, urging only a "campaign of ideas, not a campaign of insults". His advisers are gambling that the scandal around Mr Morris's alleged liaison with a prostitute will leave the President unscathed, and that his rousing speech will exorcise old demons of scandal.

For the moment the polls suggests they are right: Surveys yesterday put the President ahead by 13 to 17 points even before his speech, a margin that would translate into an election landslide. Trailing as they are, however, the Republicans will probably be unable to resist the temptation to revive the Clinton "character" question. "It says something about who you surround yourself with," Mr Dole drily commented, referring to "14 or 15" former aides who had already left the White House under a cloud.

The bus trip, on which the Vice-President, Al Gore, will join Mr Clinton, is a reprise of the hugely successful device after the 1992 convention. It takes them through Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, all closely contested border states which the Democrats would love to carry on 5 November.

Chicago soap opera, page 15

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas