CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democrats rushed to clean up a party platform mess Wednesday and moved to officially re-nominate President Obama for a second term in office as his predecessor, former President Bill Clinton, said voters this year must choose between Republicans’ “winner-take-all” vision of success and his own party’s “shared prosperity.”
Mr. Clinton, who left office amid budget surpluses and a roaring economy, delivered a point-by-point rebuttal to Republicans’ convention last week in Tampa, mixing deep policy talk with one-liners that had delegates here roaring with laughter.
Looking older but speaking with passion and the same thumb-gestures that made him ripe for caricature during his time in office, the former president harkened back to a Republican Party he said he used to be able to work with, but which he said has since become riven by a desire for conflict rather than cooperation.
Mr. Clinton also said it was impossible for any president in a single term to “repair all the damage” that Mr. Obama found when he took office, but said he’s laid the groundwork for a recovery. He said that’s what this year’s election comes down to.
“The most important question is, what kind of country do you want to live in?” Mr. Clinton said. “If you want a winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama.”
Mr. Obama himself arrived in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon and prepared for his Thursday speech accepting his party’s nomination.
He had been slated to speak at Bank of America Stadium, in front of more than 65,000 cheering supporters, much as he did four years ago to a stadium audience in Denver. But his campaign on Wednesday canceled the stadium and said Thursday’s speeches will take place in the much smaller arena where the convention met on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The party blamed the chances of thunderstorms, and said it would hold a conference call with those who’d gotten tickets for the stadium but would now be shut out.
Republicans, though, said the president was afraid he wouldn’t be able to fill the stadium, which they said highlighted the gap in enthusiasm for Mr. Obama compared to 2008, when he filled the stadium in Denver.
Democrats also scrambled to recover after they adopted a platform earlier this week that excluded language declaring U.S. support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and dropped a mention of God that had been in previous platforms.
On Wednesday they held a voice vote trying to add Jerusalem and God provisions back in — but had to hold the vote several times before the “Yes” votes clearly out-shouted the “No” votes.
The White House had pushed to add the language back in after platform became a distraction from their message.
Democrats are desperate to frame this year’s election as a choice between candidates rather than a referendum on Mr. Obama’s stewardship of the economy, and have repeatedly turned to social issues to try to peel black, Hispanic and women voters away from the GOP.
On Wednesday Sandra Fluke, the woman who Republicans denied a chance to testify to Congress on her support for Mr. Obama’s contraceptive policy, told the convention Mr. Romney “wont stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted views in his own party.”