Former President Bill Clinton revved up a crowd on behalf of Barack Obama in Florida Wednesday, his first since the Democratic convention. And though he repeated his mantra that Democrats don't have to "say one bad word" about their Republican opponents to win the election, Clinton actually snuck in a dig against Sarah Palin.
"So he's got a better philosophy. He's got better answers. He's got a better understanding, and better advisers on these complex economic matters. He's got a better vice presidential partner," Clinton said to a crescendo of applause.
Any Democratic skeptics who watched the former president's speech for signs of lingering bitterness against Obama should have been pleasantly surprised. Though MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer wrapped up the channel's live coverage of the speech by saying the former president "spent almost as much time" praising Joe Biden as Obama, Clinton actually spent more time praising Obama's positions than talking up his running mate.
Meanwhile, almost all the Biden references were also used to subtly diss Palin in comparison. Toward the end of his remarks, Clinton repeated the Palin dig, saying: "The Obama/Biden ticket, and particularly Senator Obama, have a better philosophy, better answers, better understanding, better advisers, a better vice presidential candidate, and a better plan for Florida. ... This is not close, folks. It is not a close question."
Today's fire tracked with what one former Clinton campaign staffer told the Huffington Post would be a passionate next 35 days for the former president on the stump for Obama. The source added that we might even be treated to a "red-faced, finger pointing" moment on behalf of Obama, in order to lay to rest any remaining doubts regarding Clinton's passion.
"He might have one of those red-faced, finger-pointing moments about Obama in the sense of 'how dare John McCain try to do X to Senator Obama.' It would be a way to show especially the African-American community, 'Look, I'm fighting for your guy,' and doing exactly the kind of thing I did for my wife [in the primary]," the former staffer said, adding: "If I turn on the TV and see Bill Clinton jabbing his finger in someone's face and just going off I would not be surprised."
Another source, a former Clinton fundraiser, agreed that too much has been made of late about Clinton's supposedly too-friendly remarks about John McCain. "Come on," the fundraiser said. "McCain came to his event [the Clinton Global Initiative]. What was he gonna do, slam the guy?" Now that the event has passed and Clinton is scheduled to be on the stump for Obama, the fundraiser said he "fully expect[s] to see some passionate advocacy" on behalf of the Democratic ticket.