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Bill Clinton at the podium: Barack Obama could benefit from watching

August 27, 2008 |  7:24 pm

DENVER -- Those Democrats growing increasingly concerned that Barack Obama is letting slip away a golden opportunity to win the White House may well have thought they glimpsed a possible solution tonight to the nominee's recent struggles.

Not only should the Obama team make up with Bill Clinton -- as quickly as possible -- it should sign him up as a speech writer and (dare we say it) speech coach.

As he almost always did in delivering a major speech as a presidential candidate and while in office, Clinton hit all the right notes in his high-profile appearance before the Democratic National Convention.

He effortlessly mixed effective rhetoric with specific examples of the ills he believes the nation has suffered under eight years of Republican rule. His coversational cadence and wry humor make the details he imparts easy to digest. It's a style Obama could benefit from studying (especially the humor part).

And Clinton -- effortlessly, it seemed -- encapsulated the two themes that most experts think should make it a Democratic year, but that Obama has had trouble communicating.

"Clearly," Clinton said, "the job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and restore America's standing in the world."

After being welcomed by boisterous, sustained applause, the most successful Democratic politician since John Kennedy wasted no time on building up to the line his party's rank-and-file was eager to hear. "I am honored to be here tonight to support Barack Obama," he said right out of the gate.

Of course, he then veered quickly to praising Obama's vice presidential pick, Joe Biden. "I love Joe Biden and America will too," he said.

There were no such effusive words for Obama, but that was just as well -- they would have rung false, after the bruises the Obama and Clinton camps inflicted upon one another in the party's primary battle.

He returned to the endorsement part of his message soon enough, referencing the latest strong words of support that had been provided Obama Tuesday night by Hillary Clinton,

"Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything she can to elect Barack Obama. [Pause]. That makes two of us." [Huge, huge burst of applause.]

Later, he tackled directly the "not ready to lead" tag the John McCain camp is trying, seemingly with some success, to make stick to Obama.

"Barack Obama is ready to lead American and restore American leadership in the world," the ex-president said. "Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath to oreserve, protect, defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States."

Now, the big question for Democrats: Will this be a one-shot deal or the start of several such appearances?

-- Don Frederick

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