The Secretary of Explaining Stuff came to Miami on Tuesday — and he lived up to the new nickname given him by President Barack Obama.
From Medicare to education policy to the national debt, former President Bill Clinton held forth at Florida International University for a 40-minute speech that showered praise on Obama and condemned Republican policy.
“The test is not whether you think everything’s hunky-dory — if that were the test, the president would vote against himself,” Clinton said. “He knows everything’s not hunky-dory. He knows how bad some people are hurting … The test is whether he’s taking us in the right direction — and the answer then is yes.”
In many ways, the speech was a repeat — though less rousing — than the remarks Clinton delivered last week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in which he presented a point-by-point rebuttal to the case Republicans had made at their own convention in Tampa a week earlier.
“I believe with all my heart that a society that basically says, ‘You’re on your own’ is never going to be as successful in a highly competitive and interdependent world as a society that says, ‘We don’t have a person to waste,’” he said. “We’re all in this together.”
Obama nicknamed Clinton the “Secretary of Explaining Stuff” during a Saturday event in St. Petersburg.
“Somebody sent out a tweet, ‘He needs to be made Secretary of Explaining Stuff.’ I like that!” Obama said, “I have to admit, it didn’t say ‘stuff.’”
At FIU, Clinton performed like a professor, explaining the campaign’s most complex issues, while Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign remained largely silent, saying the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks shouldn’t be about politics.
Both Obama and Romney pulled negative ads during a one-day 9/11 truce.
Still, the Romney campaign did point out that Clinton and Obama have misrepresented the effectiveness of the president’s proposed debt-reduction plan.
“President Obama has run up more debt in just four years than any president in American history,” Romney spokesman Jeff Bechdel said in a statement. “It’s a debt that will lead to higher taxes on the middle class, prolonged unemployment, and a diminished standing for our country. The only thing worse than President Obama’s record of reckless debt is the fact he doesn’t have a credible plan to correct it.”
Clinton indirectly took on the criticism over the debt and the president’s stimulus bill. He pointed to Europe, saying austerity measures have slowed its economy down — a challenge to Romney’s longstanding criticism of Obama having a European-style perspective when it comes to government. More government spending in down times is actually needed, Clinton said.
“There’s not enough private economic activity to grow the economy fast enough to allow us to effectively bring down the debt,” he said.
Clinton began his speech to the crowd of about 2,300 by remembering 9/11. His wife was a U.S. senator from New York, his daughter worked in lower Manhattan and he was in Australia, Clinton said, before President Bush arranged for him to return. “This day is about citizenship,” he said.