"When President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in free fall," Clinton said. "It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month."
"If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again," he said. "And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up. But too many people do not feel it yet."
—High unemployment. The nation's 8.3 percent unemployment rate is Romney's best issue. Clinton put the best possible face on the problem.
"In 2010, as the president's recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around," Clinton said. The stimulus "saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes — let me say this again — cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. And, in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs."
Clinton did not mention heavy layoffs in many state and local governments.
—Health care. Clinton gave a detailed defense of the 2010 health care law that Romney vows to overturn.
"Republicans call it, derisively, 'Obamacare,'" he said. "They say it's a government takeover."
"Individuals and businesses have already gotten more than a billion dollars in refunds from insurance companies" under the law's spending-and-profit regulations, Clinton said. "More young adults can stay on their parents' employer-provided insurance plans," he said, and "millions of seniors are receiving preventive care" under the law.
—Medicare. Clinton assailed Republicans' plan to convert Medicare, eventually, to a voucher program that wouldn't necessarily cover all procedures now covered. "It's going to end Medicare as we know it," Clinton said.
He chided Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan for opposing Obama's bid to reduce Medicare payments by $716 billion over 10 years, something Ryan himself once supported. "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did," Clinton said.
—Welfare. Clinton was animated in rejecting GOP claims that Obama took the "work requirement" out of welfare.
"This is personal to me," Clinton said, alluding to his much-debated overhaul of welfare as president. "When some Republican governors asked if they could have waivers to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work," he said, the Obama administration agreed, but "only if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent."
"The requirement was for more work, not less."
Democratic delegates cheered Clinton's campaign summary: "I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better," he said. "He inherited a deeply damaged economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs."
Only 15 hours after Clinton's speech, the Romney campaign aired a new ad trying to undermine the former president. It shows Clinton — at the height of the 2008 Democratic primary battle between Obama and Clinton's wife, Hillary — calling Obama's account of his stand against the Iraq war "the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
Romney, no doubt, is glad that Clinton is unlikely to have another stage as big as Charlotte's this fall.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Charles Babington covers national politics for The Associated Press.
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