CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBSNewYork) — On Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention the party will trot out one of its biggest names.
Bill Clinton is the first Democratic president to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama is counting on some of that mojo to help him win a second, too. The delegates are excited. They just can wait to hear the nation’s 42nd president, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“I think it’s important that President Clinton speak to the delegates as well as the American people. He has respect as well as a good presidency. When he left office there was a surplus so he knows how to do it,” said New York delegate Edgar Romney.
When Clinton formally nominates Obama on Wednesday night he’ll be competing with a nationally televised New York Giants football game, but that hasn’t dimmed the enthusiasm of Democrats for the man who has been out of office for 12 years.
“By virtue of him just standing there it becomes rock star status and let’s face it, he’s been one of the most successful presidents in substance,” Assemblyman and State Democratic Co-Chair Keith Wright said.
Although Clinton, with his, yes, rock star status, has to be careful to help but not overshadow President Obama, delegates like what he stands for. He’s a guy who left office with a budget surplus and who created 23 million jobs.
“I want to see him remind people that when you had a Democratic president we had a very prosperous country,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler said.
President Obama needs Clinton to convince Americans that he can deliver on job creation, too, and that they should overlook the fact that his administration has suffered a net loss of 300,000 jobs. They want Clinton to pin the country’s economic woes on President George W. Bush, not Obama.
“When they see President Clinton on that stage they will be reminded that he left President Bush a surplus, a surplus that was squandered,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
There may be some worry that Clinton could outshine President Obama, but Hofstra University professor Larry Levy said, “Does Bill Clinton make Obama grind his teeth from time to time? Absolutely. But Clinton makes everyone grind their teeth. There is nobody more valuable. You have to have ‘Bubba’ on your side. He’s the guy. He’s the man.”
Obama and Clinton have not always had a cordial relationship. Things really frayed during the bitter 2008 primary when Hillary Clinton lost. In recent years the two have forged a working relationship.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb has reaction from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Prominent politicians from the other side of the aisle will also be watching Clinton closely, if not in admiration. Rudy Giuliani was at least week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and already has an opinion about the DNC.
The Republican ex-mayor of New York City called the ideas presented on the first night left-wing and stale, but said he is looking forward to hearing from Clinton.
“Bill Clinton’s going to speak tonight. If Barack Obama were Bill Clinton, he’d get re-elected. You can’t find two people who are more different,” Giuliani told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
“How did Bill Clinton govern when Republicans won Congress? He joined with them and did away with welfare and did immigration reform. How did Barack Obama govern when the Republicans got Congress? He fought with them for two years and went further to the left,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also said Bill Clinton is a good reason to vote against Barack Obama.
The campaign announced Wednesday that President Obama’s big speech Thursday night will be moved indoors.
It was originally scheduled to take place at the Bank Of America stadium, an outdoor venue that can hold about 70,000 people.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports on the venue change
But weather reports show a continued threat of rain for Charlotte, forcing the campaign to reschedule the speech for the Time Warner Cable arena where the rest of the convention is taking place.
That’s bad luck for about 50,000 ticket-holders who were hoping to hear the President speak.
Anne Howard is from the North Fork of Long Island and got a ticket to the big speech. She told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell she’ll now likely be watching the president from her hotel room.
“I think it’s disappointing. I’m sure that it was a hard decision for the campaign to make because they were really trying to rally as many people as possible,” Howard told Haskell.
Howard said her husband is a delegate so he will still be in attendance.
“I of course couldn’t get in the arena Tuesday night or Wednesday night, so this was my big chance,” she said.
But Howard said this venue change may work out for the best.
“The emotions that you saw in peoples faces were so incredible when Michelle was speaking and I don’t know whether that might be somewhat lost in a larger venue,” Howard told Haskell.
The president will speak to disappointed ticket-holders by conference call.
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