Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bill Clinton praises Obama at speech in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — By the time former President Bill Clinton arrived in St. Petersburg on Friday, his usually strong voice was fading and he was nearing the end of a tour of Florida to stump for President Barack Obama.

He said a gravelly "Hello St. Petersburg," and coughed. It was his fourth stop in Florida that day and he had one more to go. Still, Clinton held the attention of about 2,000 people as he delivered a nearly hourlong speech championing Obama's achievements and criticizing Republicans for being unwilling to work with the president.

"I did 40 events for then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008. Hillary did 70 events in 2008," he said. "But I am far more enthusiastic about him this time than I was four years ago. And you should be, too."

Since September, when Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention cemented his position as Obama's surrogate, the former president has been crisscrossing Florida.

He began the day in Lake Worth, speaking to a crowd at Palm Beach State College before moving on to a convention center in Fort Myers. After his speech in St. Petersburg, he was scheduled to appear in Tallahassee.

In St. Petersburg, Clinton was joined by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, and former Gov. Charlie Crist, who introduced the former president. Throughout the event, Clinton's voice was so hoarse and the room's echo effect so obtrusive that people in the back of the room could barely hear him.

For much of his speech, Clinton focused on the economy.

"I think we're coming back," he said. "I can tell you, nobody, nobody, nobody, not me not anybody else, could have repaired all the damage in four years."

He cited a recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the unemployment rate has stayed just below 8 percent and job growth was exceeding economists' expectations.

Republicans "were trying to keep it above eight and they were so disappointed when it dropped," he joked.

Clinton reminded the audience that Obama had just won the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who on Thursday said climate change and Hurricane Sandy contributed to his decision. And he mentioned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's newly warm feelings for the president as an example of Obama's leadership.

"Florida has been through enough hurricanes to know that when you've got a natural disaster, everybody all of a sudden wakes up and says, 'you know, we're all in this together,' " he said. "That works a lot better than 'you're on your own.' "

On Friday, Mitt Romney's campaign called Clinton's appearances in Florida a "desperate attempt to make up for lost ground."

"President Obama has dispatched President Clinton to Florida to do what he could not — convince Florida voters that he actually has a plan to create jobs and get our country back on the path to prosperity," wrote Romney's Florida communications director, Jeff Bechdel.

But in the days leading up to Tuesday's election, Republicans have scheduled some of their own time to convince Florida voters. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is scheduled to appear in Panama City today and Romney's campaign website says that he is holding a rally in Sanford on Monday.

According to the Obama campaign, the president is scheduled to appear in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and Michelle Obama is headed to Central Florida — exactly where is unclear — on Monday.

Norris Comer, 23, an Eckerd College senior, was motivated to attend Clinton's speech to get a glimpse of what politics is like in a swing state. The Oregon native isn't used to all the attention.

"Nobody ever fights over Oregon," said Comer, who voted for Obama.

As for Clinton's speech, Comer said: "I thought it was pretty classic, a little long-winded, but with good, juicy numbers."

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779.

Former President Bill Clinton, left, takes the stage after being introduced by Charlie Crist on Friday in St. Petersburg.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Former President Bill Clinton, left, takes the stage after being introduced by Charlie Crist on Friday in St. Petersburg.

Bill Clinton praises Obama at speech in St. Petersburg 11/02/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Romano: Sinkholes take Florida's quirks to a whole 'nother level

    Public Safety

    So all of this — the beaches, palm trees and fresh grouper sandwiches — comes with a few extenuating costs. To live in Florida is to accept a lifestyle of hazards, both peculiar and deadly. Lightning strikes and hurricanes, for example. Alligators and sharks, too. Floods, drug traffickers, spring break and …

    Two days after a sinkhole opened in front of her Spring Hill home in 2014, Linda Fisher packs up to leave for good.
  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  3. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

    Blogs

    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  4. For starters: Souza returns to lineup

    Blogs

     

  5. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.