Published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 | 4:51 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 | 5:42 p.m.
Bill Clinton, who received plaudits for his speech at the Democratic National Convention in September, showed off his oratory skills Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas at a rally for President Barack Obama.
Under a blazing afternoon sun and cloudless sky, approximately 2,000 Obama supporters packed Springs Preserve to hear the former president make his case for a second term for his fellow Democrat.
Clinton spoke for about 30 minutes, making a pitch for the entire Democratic ticket in Nevada while touching on the role of government, health care, education and employment.
“The most successful societies on earth today are not the ones that pit government against business,” Clinton said, "but where government and business work together to do what each does best to empower everybody to succeed in shared prosperity.”
Clinton is promoting Obama in Southern Nevada as the president re-establishes his footing in the race after polls and pundits alike pronounced Republican challenger Mitt Romney the winner of the first presidential debate. Several post-debate polls showed a bump for Romney.
“I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did,” Clinton said. “I thought: ‘Wow, here’s old moderate Mitt. Where have you been? I missed you these last two years.”
Clinton said Romney had migrated toward the right in the past two years to advance his political aspirations. But during the debate, Clinton said, Romney’s answers leaned more to the center.
Amadou Dione, 55, attended Tuesday’s rally and said, like many in the viewing public, he felt Romney had outperformed Obama last week.
“I was disappointed with Obama’s performance in the debate,” said Dione, who has already seen Obama speak in Las Vegas three times this year. “He didn’t perform at his best last week. But it’s like the Dream Team, even they had a bad Olympics. … It shocked me that he didn’t pull out his ace in the hole, the ’47 percent.’”
Vice President Joe Biden will debate Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, on Thursday, and two additional presidential debates remain before the Nov. 6 elections.
Dione, an out-of-work information technology specialist, said he expected Obama would redeem himself in the final two debates. Despite being unemployed, Dione said he still believed the president had set the country on the path to economic recovery.
“Four years ago the economy was collapsing, and (Obama) stabilized things,” Dione said. “It’s like a doctor with a really sick patient. It takes time, and you have to stabilize the patient and then address the causes.”
Clinton, who received a warm welcome and shouts of “we miss you” from the crowd, also lashed out at the Republican Party for challenging the jobs report released last week indicating unemployment had fallen below 8 percent. When the number was over 8 percent the numbers were inscrutable, Clinton said, but once the rate fell below 8 percent there was a “sick conspiracy” at work.
“It really broke (the Republicans’) hearts to see unemployment drop,” Clinton said. “I want a president and a Congress that loves it when unemployment drops. I want people that believe that putting people back to work is just as patriotic as putting our troops in uniform.”
Clinton, who was lauded by Obama for explanatory abilities after his convention speech, has taken to the role and referred to his job of “explaining stuff” several times.
“Let me explain this one more time,” Clinton said while discussing rival plans for reforming Medicare. “First of all, the AARP supports the president’s position. I don’t think anybody thinks that the AARP is in business of wrecking Medicare for our seniors.”
Nevada Assemblyman John Oceguera and state Sen. Steven Horsford, Democratic candidates for Congressional Districts 3 and 4 respectively, also spoke at the event, along with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. Rep. Shelley Berkley, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, introduced Clinton.
The Valley High School marching band entertained the crowd. While temperatures at the afternoon event were in the high 80s, modest by Las Vegas standards, a few people attending the rally needed medical attention from heat exhaustion.