Charles Dharapak, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Barack Obama inherited a wreck of an economy, "put a floor under the crash" and laid the foundation for millions of good new jobs, former President Bill Clinton declared Wednesday night in a Democratic National Convention appeal aimed at millions of hard-pressed Americans yet to decide how to vote.
"If you want a you're-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket," Clinton said. "If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we're-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."
Obama's high command released the remarks before Clinton's appearance as they struggled to bury the news of an embarrassing retreat on the party platform.
Under criticism from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, they abruptly rewrote the day-old document to insert a reference to God and to declare that Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel." Some delegates objected loudly, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, presiding in the largely-empty hall, ruled them outvoted. White House aides said Obama had personally ordered the changes.
The episode was an unwanted intrusion for Democratic officials, who scripted the evening to showcase Clinton, popular 12 years after he left office with the budget in balance and now their unofficial ambassador-in-chief to anxious voters in a tough economy.
"In Tampa the Republican argument against the president's re-election was pretty simple: 'We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in,'" Clinton said in advance excerpts.
"I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators."
Obama arrived in his convention city earlier in the day. His formal nomination to a second term in office followed Clinton's speech on the evening program, and his acceptance speech will mark the convention finale on Thursday night.
On an unsettled convention day, aides also scrapped plans for the president to speak to a huge crowd in a 74,000 seat football stadium, citing the threat of bad weather in a city that has been pelted by heavy downpours in recent days.
"We can't do anything about the rain. The important thing is the speech," said Washington Rey, a delegate from Sumter, S.C.
That and the eight-week general election campaign about to begin between Obama and Republican challenger Romney, who spent his second straight day in Vermont preparing for this fall's debates with Obama.
In a tight race for the White House and with control of the Senate at stake, Democrats signaled unmistakable concern about the growing financial disadvantage they confront. Officials said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama's first White House chief of staff, was resigning as national co-chair of the president's campaign to help raise money for a super PAC that supports the his re-election.
Unlike candidates, outside groups can solicit donations of unlimited size from donors. At the same time, federal law bars coordination with the campaigns.
Clinton's speech marked the seventh convention in a row he has spoken to party delegates, and the latest twist in a relationship with Obama that has veered from frosty to friendly. The two men clashed in 2012, when Obama outran Hillary Rodham Clinton's wife for the Democratic presidential nomination.
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