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bill clinton in orlando Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, in Orlando, Florida., as he campaigns for President Barack Obama. (Photo: AP Photo/John Raoux)

Election 2012: Bill Clinton Campaigns for Obama in Florida

Former President urges voters to choose cooperation over conflict

By Topanga Sena | September 17 , 2012

ORLANDO, Florida — Supporters of President Barack Obama gathered in the hundreds for a grassroots event in Orlando on Wednesday. But the featured guest wasn't the current President — it was a former one.

President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd packed into the Rosen Plaza Hotel ballroom and praised Democratic politics, President Obama, and Obama's record.

Clinton was introduced by Grace Nelson, wife of Senator Bill Nelson, and Val Demings, former Orlando chief of police and current congressional candidate.

At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a couple weeks ago, Clinton delivered a rousing speech that energized the crowd. At the Orlando event, he was able to whip Obama supporters into an enthusiastic frenzy, too. The excitement in the air had an almost electric feeling.

Throughout his speech, Clinton defended President Obama's health care, jobs, and Medicare plans. He also assured the crowd that the nation's economy was in such disarray when Obama became President in 2009 that no one could have fixed it in one single four-year term.

"As someone who, beginning when I was governor in 1979, has spent a lifetime trying to create jobs and help people start businesses and expand manufacturing and create opportunity for people to train and educate them to seize those opportunities, it is my opinion that no President, not Barack Obama, not Bill Clinton, not anybody who served before us, nobody who ever had this job, could repair that much damage to this economy," Clinton said.

He tailored his speech to reach out to Floridians by hailing more than 100 computer simulation companies that exist in Orlando. He also referred to Central Florida's space industry and technological innovators.

"Florida is the future, today," Clinton said. "You have lots of young people with great diversity and enormous promise, and too much poverty."

Referring to the University of Central Florida as the "country's largest unknown university," he specifically pointed out that students have benefited from Pell Grant scholarships and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. He praised the University for meeting the changing needs of job training. He added that President Obama will continue helping students get a quality education if he's reelected.

Clinton also took some shots at Obama's opponent, Republican Mitt Romney. Clinton said Romney's proposed tax cuts are a bad idea. Trying to close the deficit with tax cuts has already been shown to be ineffective, Clinton said. He emphasized the vision of "shared prosperity" over "trickled down economy," that cooperation over conflict always wins, and arithmetic counts.

"When you're in a hole, I've been taught the first thing you do is quit digging," Clinton added.

Echoing his message from Charlotte, he defended President Obama's administration and the work they have performed in recovery efforts for the past four years.

"First, I want to say again something I said in Charlotte, because the whole election could come down to this," he said. "I honestly believe it doesn't matter who caused it or whether the contributing factors all happened under President Bush or something I did or something Ronald Regan did 30 years ago. Regardless, President Obama didn't cause it."

Supporters after the event believed that Clinton's speech was well received.

"I thought it was an excellent speech because he stuck to the facts," said Alan Grayson, former Congressman and current congressional candidate. "Here is a person who has been our leader for eight years, and all he wanted was to explain to people what's really going on. That kind of speech is something you hear only from Democrats, and that's why I'm proud to be a Democrat."

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