ORLANDO — Former President Bill Clinton set aside his cool relationship with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday to condemn Republican economic policies as well as endorse his wife's ex-rival.
Clinton, in his first campaign trail appearance on Obama's behalf, talked at length about the nation's problems, particularly the financial mess Congress is handling, and told a crowd of several thousand that Obama would be better at finding answers.
"Here's why you ought to be for Barack Obama," Clinton said. "He's got better answers. Better answers for the economy, for energy, for health care, for education. He knows what it will take to get this country back on track."
Clinton didn't speak Obama's name until five minutes into his 22-minute speech and mentioned wife Hillary Rodham Clinton's voter outreach group when explaining why he came to Florida: "Hillary sent me."
At one point Clinton heaped higher praise on Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, than on Obama or his own wife, saying that no one in the Senate understands economic and security challenges like Biden. Obama, Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee John McCain are also in the Senate.
Clinton did praise Obama for his approach to the country's economic crisis, saying that Obama had asked him and other economic advisers for help.
"You know what he said? 'Show me what the problem is and how to fix it and don't bother me with the politics. Let's do the right thing,' " Clinton said.
Clinton gave a similar speech in Fort Pierce later Wednesday before a crowd of several thousand at an outdoor waterfront event in sweltering heat where several people fainted.
"Someone just fainted, and I know its because of the heat because at my age I know I don't have that much juice anymore," he said to laughter.
At both events, Clinton mentioned neither McCain nor his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, by name, but he did say Obama's "got a better vice presidential partner."