Clinton was introduced by Lt. Ignatius “Iggy” Carroll, whose day job is spokesman for the Miami Fire Department. Others in attendance included former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez and U.S. congressional candidate Joe Garcia, who addressed the crowd shortly before Clinton took the stage.
It took a while for the crowd to get warmed up — literally — before Clinton’s remarks. Most had been caught in a torrential downpour before entering the U.S. Century Bank Arena on FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus in West Miami-Dade.
Still, judging by how the crowd hung on to his every word, Clinton is a potent political weapon for Obama for which Romney doesn’t have much of an equal. Clinton plans to stump Wednesday in Orlando, a battleground region in the nation’s biggest battleground state, without which Romney probably can’t win the White House.
The Pew Research Center found that, among those who watched the convention, about twice as many viewers believed Clinton’s speech was the highlight compared to Obama’s address.
At Tuesday’s rally, 31-year-old Jessica Fernandez couldn’t choose between which of the two men she’d rather hear speak.
“Together would be great,” she said. Of Clinton, she added: “He’s got charisma, the likeability factor.” After the speech, Clinton stayed behind a few minutes, working the cheering crowd.
Though Clinton got the most applause when he mentioned Pell grants and other federal funding for college students, he didn’t let the younger crowd keep him from launching into a lengthy defense of Obama’s healthcare plan that trims future Medicare expenses. Romney said he’d reverse those cuts.
“The Medicare trust fund, instead of running out of money in 2024, will now go broke in 2016” under Republicans’ plan, Clinton said. “Which means they’ll have to change Medicare as we know it… or take money away from education.”
In suggesting that Medicare itself would go bankrupt, Clinton is probably exaggerating because, government officials say, Congress has never allowed the program to run out of money.
And though the trust fund could start running out of money, people will still be paying taxes into the system. So it’s not as if Medicare’s entire revenue stream would be eliminated by reversing Obamacare’s cuts.
Clinton’s claim that Romney will take money from education can’t be proved — or disproved. Romney refuses to say just how he’ll balance the budget or make up for the loss of projected Medicare savings by reversing Obamacare.
Clinton spoke with notes but without a prepared speech. Sometimes, when discussing trade, he sounded like an economist. Other times, he struck a more blunt tone, referring to the GOP’s attacks as “a mangy old dog.”
The crowd laughed. But he warned them to respect Republicans, especially when it came to Medicare.
“They got away with running this old dog through the chute in 2010,” he said. “If we let it happen again, it is our fault.”
And that’s why Obama wants Clinton out front in his campaign, stirring Democrats and independents — to make sure it’s not the Democrats’ fault this time.