RI Democratic Leaders Praise Clinton Speech

President Clinton and Obama after the nominating speech at the DNC, Sept. 5

CHARLOTTE, NC —  Rhode Island’s two Democratic Senators were effusive in their praise for the barnburner of a speech that former President Bill Clinton delivered last night nominating Barack Obama.

At the delegation’s breakfast meeting this morning, there were a lot of smiles (and more than a few extra cups of coffee, given that Speaker Fox’s own speech delivering the delegation’s votes didn’t happen until well past midnight.)

You may have thought it was a good speech on TV, but from inside the hall, it was electric. It was like watching an actor at the height of their powers give the performance of a lifetime.  The only analogy I can think of – and this will only resonate for some classical buffs – was watching Glenn Gould perform the “Goldberg Variations.”

Clinton held the audience of almost 20 thousand rapt, whipsawed them across a spectrum of emotions, had them ready to laugh and cry, and, effortlessly, had them on their feet cheering. And then, When President Obama made his surprise appearance, the noise level in the Time-Warner area went offscale, a solid wall of sound that you felt rather than  heard.

“No one can do it better than Bill Clinton,” Sen. Jack Reed told the delegates this morning. “He did a great job of laying out clearly the stakes in this election.” With a smile, he said, “If I were a really good lawyer like Sheldon Whitehouse, I’d simply say, ‘I rest my case.”

“It was great to see the master in action,” said Whitehouse. He noted that last night, the Democrats out their last president in a prime-time slot, while during the Republican convention, George W. Bush was nowhere to be seen. It was all about substance, Whithouse argued. “When you [talk about] the policies of the Democratic Party, you get results that made Bill Clinton light up not just the room, but the whole country.”

RI Democratic Party Chair Ed Pacheco echoed that theme. “Clinton was able to articulate not just the genuine, sincere reasons [for supporting the Prsident] but also the depths of his policy.” He urged delegates to take the messages they had heard this week back to Rhode Island. “We need to motivate each and every person in the state to get behind the Democratic team.”

For those who may not have stayed up quite as late as the folks in Charlotte, during the roll call, RI House Speaker Gordon Fox gave an impassioned speech  linking Rhode Island’s motto, “Hope” and how it was reflected in the Democratic platform supporting marriage equality.

You can see a video of the speech here, shot from the convention floor by RI delegation page Jonathan Boucher.

Fox said the theme had developed for him during the past two days. “That’s the power of conventions,” he said. “You’re almost swept up by the speeches and the passion.” Listening to speaker after speaker, like Lily Ledbetter, articulate messages of their hope and dreams crystallized the idea, he told RI Future.

One special guest stopped by to visit delegates this morning. Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who also delivered a powerful speech with the Democratic women Senators last night, popped by to rally folks to continue the work back home, and she promised to do what she could to help. “We need Rhode Island to be true blue, and we’re going to work until we’re blue in the face.”

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Science fiction writer and journalist from Portsmouth, RI

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