OTR Interviews

The Clinton Touch: Bill recasts the dialogue, makes the case for Obama better than the president has

Did Bill Clinton help or hurt Pres. Obama's re-election chances with DNC speech?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is "On the Record" live from Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. And you are looking live at the roll call. Delegates from all the states announcing their votes for the presidential nominee. Now it's night two of the Democratic National Convention. And today, after weather delayed an Air Force One take off, President Obama arrived here in Charlotte.

And tonight perhaps the biggest star of the Democratic Party was here, former President Bill Clinton, President Clinton nominates President Obama for a second term, and then a sig surprise, President Obama joining President Clinton on stage.

And joining us now our political panel. "Washington Examiner" chief political correspondent, Byron York, the Hill's A.B. Stoddard, and ABC News senior Washington editor Rick Klein.

All right. Byron, you're first, big night tonight. President Clinton coming out to "You Can't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It was a big speech. I said it last night. Bill Clinton makes the case for Barack Obama's reelection better than Barack Obama does. Clinton is the best simplifier, the best explainer in the business. And he just -- he systematically knocked down Republican policy points from a Democratic perspective. And he built the case for Barack Obama. He said, look. No president, not me, no other president could have gotten us out of this hole in just four years. So you have to reelect Barack Obama. I thought it was very effective, kind of long speech.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kind of long, at least it was --

YORK: King of long.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's -- it's always a little bit kind of long, President Clinton. A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Well, he said no president, and none of my -- not me, none of my predecessor, as Byron points out, could have undid the damage in just four years. And he said he believed it with all of his heart. I agree, if Barack Obama had sat down to write the speech he wanted Bill Clinton to deliver on his behalf to endorse him, he couldn't have written a better one.

He went over every single solitary Republican attack, rebutting them in detail. He also told these Democrats in this hall and he kept referring to the people who were watching at home that these where the very same economic policies that he governed with, just in a different set of circumstances.

He said I remember when they didn't -- when voters didn't feel when the economy was turning around and he said you're going feel it. He was as good as it can get for President Obama.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean part of it is showbiz. He's got to keep the audience certainly wants the undecided, the independents, we don't know if they're watching, we certainly know the party faithful is out here, but in February, '09, I think it was to Matt Lauer that President Obama said he's going to do this in three years or he's going to be a one-term president.

Now, we have President Clinton coming out and said, I couldn't have done it in -- you know, in this term. An issue for President Obama or not? I mean does he get helped with that or does President Clinton lift lift him out of that problem?

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS SENIOR WASHINGTON EDITOR: I think by turning to President Clinton he's recasting the terms of the debate. He's trying to set the Obama economy aside and saying this is the Clinton economy. And we're setting that against the Bush economy.

I thought it was very telling. The first image that we saw of President Obama at this forward convention is with the man who built the bridge to the 21st century 16 years ago. I think it's telling that he needed to reach back certainly given all the personal history and the complicated history between the Clintons and the Obamas, but I do think it was very effective in talking about this new American dream economy and piecing it together. A whole lot of policy when Bill Clinton draws the crowd into it, it kind of goes down smooth.

YORK: Clinton's job was to bring voters down from the expectation level they had of Barack Obama in 2008. I went to a private focus group conducted by Frank Luntz a couple of days ago. And after listening to all these disappointed people who had voted for Obama in 2008 he said Obama is not being judged by what he's done, he's being judge by what he promised he would do. What the expectations he would raise --

(CROSSTALK)

YORK: But was trying to lower those tonight.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the flipside, if you don't have a job, I don't care how much you get dazzled by any speech, you still don't have a job.

YORK: You can't make that --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but you can't be dazzled into feeling good about it.

YORK: You cannot talk up an economy when people feel it in their own lives that it's not moving.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about when the President Obama came out at the end? Do you buy that they are embracing each other? It's been -- we only have 30 seconds but it's been a rough and frosty relationship.

STODDARD: Right. And everyone know that but it looked so good. It was a symbolic picture of unity and team spirit. And the crowd loved it. They went nuts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Panel, thank you. "On the Record," live coverage of the Democratic National Convention continues.