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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Democratic National Conventions

Aired September 5, 2012 - 23:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The crowd is obviously very, very excited. The former president of the United States, he spoke, what, for about 48 minutes. But I'll tell you, I've been watching this president, this former president of the United States going back to 1992 when I was CNN's White House correspondent, and I have to tell you, this may have been the best speech I have ever heard Bill Clinton deliver over all of these years.

And I listened to so many of his speeches during his eight years as president and to so many of his speeches in the years that followed.

The president of the United States went out there to shake his hand, to thank him. He is truly, truly grateful for what Bill Clinton has done for this president that certainly Democrats are enthused right now.

Let's go up to the podium right now. Give us a little bit of flavor, Candy. You're on the podium.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think the flavor is exactly what you're hearing and seeing. Interesting to me they didn't really linger to milk the moment. They still have business to do. They've got to actually have the delegates vote, not that there's anything that will be any surprises for the outcome.

Effective speech. If you are an avid Democrat, a true believer Democrat, and this entire place is full of them, that was a moment with former President Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Probably the most effective part of the speech, I think, as far as the audience is -- at least as far as the audience was concerned that's viewing this is when Bill Clinton looked at the camera and said, I know there is still a lot of hurt out there. I understand it, but if you believe me that the economy is going to get better -- listen here to this crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The crowd, Candy, fired up, and they're fired up and it's certainly a very fired up crowd.

Paul Begala -- let's listen in to the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't hear you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COOPER: This is the hug here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't hear you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Paul Begala, you've heard a lot of speeches by President Clinton. What do you think?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, you know, I believe this man has got a future in this business. He's a comer. He's a rising star.

(LAUGHTER)

Everything a Democrat could want, everything I think the president could want and everything that he needed. I don't know anybody else that can be as substantive and yet as riveting. There were --

COOPER: The level of detail in the speech --

BEGALA: Right.

COOPER: -- was really quite surprising at least to me and yet -- and yet there was a personal personability to it.

BEGALA: That's what you (INAUDIBLE). I was over there this afternoon and he was drilling down on which study says about half a million jobs in new energy. Are we 14th in the world or 16th in the young people graduating from college? I mean it was as substantive a session as I've had with him in 20 years, and yet I think he gets up there on stage, heats off that crowd, and I think he accomplished every political objective. But what I love about it is he didn't insult the audience.

He raised their -- in fact, there's moments when the crowd was cheering, he's like, no, no, come on, quiet, this is important, I want you to pay attention to this. So he treated his audience like grown- ups, and I think they responded.

COOPER: David Gergen, you worked in the Clinton White House as well.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a remarkable story, isn't it? He's been giving speeches for over 20 years and there's just simply no one better in America. He's been that for 20 years plus. This is, I think, the most influential and effective speech he's given since he left the presidency, and if the electorate is still movable, he moved it.

COOPER: I got to point out, they're doing the roll call right now. We're obviously monitoring it not that there's any question about what's going to happen. But --

GERGEN: Yes. Let's go on with it. He clearly -- and I think Barack Obama will try to ask him to do it. This is the first time ever, by the way, that a former president has nominated the next president. It's really -- it's really interesting, and I think a lot more (INAUDIBLE) now. (LAUGHTER)

But the point is, he told the Obama story better than President Obama has ever told --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: In terms of the record. But I think perhaps even more important was his attack on the Ryan-Romney plan in effect. You know, all along, Republicans have been worried that they were vulnerable with the Ryan budget. He found an opening and drove a Mack truck right straight through.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I would -- I would recommend to my friend Paul here, tonight when everybody leaves, lock the doors. You don't have to come back tomorrow.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Yes.

CASTELLANOS: This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably reelected Barack Obama. Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party once. It was going too far left. He came in, the new Democrat, took it to the center, he did it again tonight.

COOPER: Let's listen in just to the roll call for a bit. Just starting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And nurtured by blood, sweat and tears. Alabama has more black elected officials per capita than any state in the nation --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the right to vote is worth dying for. A state where the Republicans have a grand design to suppress, dilute, undermine and eliminate the right to vote. That, too, Alabamans and others are ready to fight for.

We now have the opportunity to present to this nation 69 votes for the next president of the United States, our current president, Barack Obama. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Alabama cast 69 votes for Obama.

Alaska, you have 24 votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Don Gray (ph) for the Alaska Democratic Party. Alaska the great land, the energy storehouse of the nation, the energy state that will produce 50 percent of its energy, its electricity by 2025 from renewable energy.

Thank you, President Obama. Ancestral home of the first people of Alaska.

COOPER: Well, we're watching it. We'll obviously continue our conversation.

John King, you again -- and Gloria Borger, you've seen a lot of Clinton speeches.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I spent half my life covering Bill Clinton. Love him or not, and there are a lot of people out in the country in the not column. He was a polarizing guy when he left office. He's redeemed himself a bit in the post-presidency. But you have to remember when he left. Love him or not, he is unique. As David said, in his generation, he is unique. There is nobody like him.

Like every Clinton speech, it could use an editor. But like every Clinton speech, it was aimed like hammer on nail that what he views is the problem. Remember, he's not just the president, he's not just a former governor, he used to be fond of telling you -- he calls me Johnny, I call him governor, because I was George McGovern's campaign manager, and this and that, he likes to manage campaigns. What did he do? A direct appeal to Michigan and Ohio on the auto bailout.

A direct appeal to young voters. We talked about that earlier how that turnout is. He knows the problems President Obama faces as the electorate, and he went at it like a campaign manager. The question is -- the question is, can he move votes? Alex says lock the doors. I'm not so sure just in the sense of there's such a tiny slice of the electorate out there that is movable, are they going to listen to a former president?

The president is an incumbent. One other point. President Clinton, and Paul knows this well, George H. W. Bush in 1992 made the very case he made tonight, saying the numbers are getting better, you just don't feel it yet. The economy is getting better. You just don't feel it. However, Bill Clinton was a very effective politician with Ross Perot's help in saying don't believe him.

Is Mitt Romney up to the challenge? Can he do what Bill Clinton did in 1992?

COOPER: When --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Well, I think --

COOPER: We've got a guest. John Kerry is down on the floor with one of our correspondents. I think he's with Brianna Keilar if I'm not -- I'm sorry, Kate Bolduan.

Kate, take it away.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Thank you. I'm here with Senator John Kerry, senator from Massachusetts. Also a Democratic nominee eight years ago.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me. President Clinton spoke very passionately tonight for President Obama. He also spoke very passionately on your behalf eight years ago. What did you take away from this speech? How did he do? Did he make a case for four more years for President Obama?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Spectacularly. I think the president laid out all of the facts in a very methodical, very personal, very quiet way. All of it factual, and I think he just destroyed the basis of the Romney approach to the economy. I mean, he made it clear the arithmetic doesn't add up. It was the same policy that got us into trouble and you can't reduce the deficit. It will hurt seniors, it will undo Medicare. It won't create the jobs.

I thought he did a great job of connecting the dots between all of the things President Obama is doing and where the nation needs to go. The most important thing was what he said as an ex-president, that he couldn't, no president could have, dealt better with the challenges we have and have set the America -- our country on a better course, and the difference will be made over the course of these next few years.

BOLDUAN: So , Senator, let me ask you this. One thing that President Clinton also hit on, he hit Republicans very hard talking about blaming Republicans for obstructionism, for the gridlock in Washington. As you know, it's a two-way street and Republicans have had a lot of criticism towards President Obama for not reaching across the aisle more. Does he need to step up more?

KERRY: Let me just be very, very clear. The president did step across the aisle. He put a $4 trillion deal on the table and Speaker John Boehner and Paul Ryan, congressman, walked away from that deal. I served on the supercommittee. I know what we put on the table. Grover Norquist and their pledge prevented them from making an agreement because they wouldn't do a balanced deal which includes any revenue at all. No revenue, none. Not even 10 to 1.

So Americans need to look at the reality of what happened. They have blocked a highway bill, they blocked a farm bill, they blocked infrastructure, they blocked jobs for Americans because they put putting the president out of a job ahead of putting the rest of America in a job.

And the president, President Clinton made that so clear tonight.

BOLDUAN: And finally, we hear that you're playing Romney in the mock debate preparing for the upcoming debates, how is your Governor Romney impression?

KERRY: I -- honestly, I just don't talk about that process. That's inside ball. We're -- we'll see where we are at the end of it all.

BOLDUAN: Not even an impression -- all right. Senator, thank you very much for your time.

KERRY: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Thank you. BOLDUAN: Anderson, I'm going to -- before we give it back to you, let's listen to California. They're in the middle of their roll call.

SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: And the Redwood Forest.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: California. The state with the most diverse population and we're so proud of you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

A state of opportunity and natural beauty that is home to veterans, to teachers, to nurses, to brave First Responders and job creators whose entrepreneurial spirit has shaped the world.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: California, where we are --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Where we are committed to reigniting the American dream, where the American dream is indeed a reality. California, where innovators and immigrants come to pursue opportunity.

Madam Secretary, California cast 609 votes for Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The great state of California, home of three such dynamic women leaders for our country, cast 609 votes for Barack Obama.

Colorado.

COOPER: Let me go back to something Alex Castellanos has just said. I want to bring Gloria Borger in on it as well.

Alex, did you say that Bill Clinton's speech tonight will reelect President Obama?

CASTELLANOS: If Barack Obama is reelected, I think tonight will be one of the big reasons why. If a Republican convention is a hall full of crazy right-wing lunatics, this is a hall full of crazy left-wing lunatics. And Bill Clinton just gave them all a master class tonight on how to move back to the middle and win an election.

BORGER: Right. Absolutely.

CASTELLANOS: And -- but it comes at a cost. And the cost is this. This party does not belong to Barack Obama now. Daddy Bear is home.

BORGER: That's not true.

CASTELLANOS: No, no. Let me finish. He came home tonight and he said, give the kid another chance. The next four years will be better. This is the new Democrat Party again.

BORGER: Here's the thing about Bill Clinton and what he does so well, which hardly anybody does anymore, is he tells a story. He turned the last four years into a compelling story. Yes, it was wonky, had a lot of numbers, but he explained the $716 billion Medicare stuff better than anybody has said.

CASTELLANOS: It's a brass protection --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And then he said, you know the thing about Paul Ryan is it takes some brass, it takes somebody who did the same thing you do. So he's speaking everybody's language. He takes complex problematic issue and then he did one other thing. To put it all in the context of the big story he said about President Obama, he said, he had it worse than I did. When I came in, we had economic trouble, but he had it worse. And you can't expect him to turn this around as quickly as I did. You've got to have some patience. He's doing the right things.

And people stayed with this speech.

CASTELLANOS: Yes.

KING: As a communicator --

BORGER: Right.

KING: Again, I'm --

COOPER: There's nobody.

KING: You know, I'm not taking sides, there's just nobody like him. His plain spokenness, his wonkiness, his able to do policy and politics at the same time, and if you go back to the Clinton days, he won an election, and when he was challenging his own party in the primaries by saying, you know, I have a plan, I have a plan. And people thought, you know, I feel your pain, you know, I felt it, that he was on their side. And if he can somehow hand some of that off to President Obama, which is what he was trying to do tonight.

COOPER: Do you think he'll be out on the stump a lot?

KING: There's no question he'll be out on the stump a lot. A, because he loves --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: He has an investment there. Alex has a point.

CASTELLANOS: Have to be careful.

KING: There's a bit of a risk tonight as the people look at him and say 23 million jobs, four million jobs. Clinton knew that. He understands the risk that people would say, well, why shouldn't you do what he did? That's why he explained, the ditch was deeper. He says personally I couldn't have done it. Very effective. CASTELLANOS: You can't have -- you can't have your daddy come fight the schoolyard bully for you. You have to do it. Barack Obama can't overuse Bill Clinton now. He's done something very big for him here, but now Barack Obama, especially in that first debate coming up, Barack Obama is going to have to pick up this ball and run in this direction.

BORGER: How about the next speech? Barack Obama's bars really high.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, tomorrow night. Tomorrow night.

GERGEN: He's done two good things for Barack Obama. He's told the Barack Obama story of the last four years and did extraordinarily well. And secondly, he tried to eviscerate the alternative. Still to come, is what is Barack Obama's plan for the future? Bill Clinton could not do that for him, he can do it in broad strokes, but it's up to Bill Clinton, don't you think, Paul?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It's interesting because you've heard President Clinton talking about the Simpson-Bowles commission. Is that -- and there's a lot of commentators who've been saying that they would like to see Barack Obama --

GERGEN: And he walked away from it.

COOPER: -- kind of re-embrace that tomorrow night.

GERGEN: Yes.

COOPER: Do you think there's any chance of that?

BEGALA: I don't think he can do that a few weeks before an election. I think he likely (INAUDIBLE) very much like Simpson-Bowles after the election as the country approaches that fiscal cliff. But I think that the progression of this convention was this.

Last night, the first lady electrified the audience and helped to humanize her husband much the same ways as Ann Romney. I think it was -- in many ways -- (INAUDIBLE). Alex said it. It's so much harder for Michelle because the president is so very well known. She was not paying -- that was enormous.

Julian Castro then put a human, warm, middle class face on the Democratic agenda. That was night one. And it was for our base.

Night two is President Clinton went out of his way. Except for Barack Obama, the only presidents he praised were Republicans. He praised Eisenhower, he praised both Bushes.

COOPER: Yes.

BEGALA: He quotes Ronald Reagan. And this was really showing Clinton at his new Democratic best. And then tomorrow night, David is right. I think the most important thing this election is for Barack Obama to tell us what he will do if we give him a second term.

COOPER: We got -- let's go down to Wolf Blitzer. Our correspondents have a lot of folks on the floor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it was really a masterful performance. And he clearly shows why he is probably the best, even 12 years after leaving the White House. Very few politicians, if any, could compete with Bill Clinton.

Brianna Keilar is with one of Bill Clinton's best friends, Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic Party -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. And of course as you know, he was co-chair of President Clinton's re- elect, so certainly maybe some lessons you there that you can apply here.

But I know you like the speech, so let me ask you this. We heard a lot of similarities from President Clinton but these are also very different men. President Clinton was most successful actually while Republicans were in control of Congress, and it appears President Obama hasn't really have the same luck. He was most successful when Democrats were in control.

They're not exactly the same.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, they were not the same but I think what President Clinton tried to portray today is they were different economies, but President Obama came in with a very tough economy and I think tonight President Clinton, what he did was lay out the choice in the election. And as he said, the Republican argument is simple. We created this mess, President Obama came into office, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so let's get rid of him.

That's not a great argument. And then President Clinton went on to talk about all those things that President Obama has been able to accomplish. This is a real choice election.

Nobody does it better than Bill Clinton laying out the issues from national security, job growth, health care, education. He put it in such simple terms tonight to say this is your choice. You can go where the Republicans want to talk about in Tampa or where President Obama wants to take us. And you had to walk away from here tonight saying, this isn't even a close contest.

KEILAR: And where do you think they need the most help from Bill Clinton? Where does the Obama campaign need to put him?

MCAULIFFE: I think clearly in those swing states, job, economic activities, where we're going to create jobs. You look here in Virginia, the delegation here in Virginia, we're facing huge cuts because of the sequestration. President Clinton laid out tonight what President Obama has done and what he will do to make sure if we got a cut, we do it in such a way that we're not going to destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs in certain states. That's what's important.

He weighed out the choice, how do you do it, what he's done and how we go forward. You can see tonight the true effects the President Clinton has for President Obama, and most importantly the tremendous respect that he has for President Obama and what he's able to accomplish and most importantly what he'll be able to accomplish coming out of here.

KEILAR: And finally, it sure does seem like you're running for governor of Virginia. Do you want to make it official here tonight on CNN?

MCAULIFFE: Well, I've always said let's wait -- let's finish this election up. We've got to get President Obama in, we've got to get Tim Kaine in the Senate. Call me up the next day, we might have some information.

KEILAR: All right, Terry. Thank you so much.

MCAULIFFE: This is a big election. You bet. Thank you.

KEILAR: Thank you so much.

So he didn't answer the question, Wolf, but he didn't say no.

BLITZER: Sounded pretty much like a yes to me, but I know Terry McAuliffe. We'll see what happens.

Brianna, thanks very much.

I would suspect that President Clinton now will parlay the speech tonight and do something else in addition to speaking for the president. He'll go out and start raising some big, big bucks for President Obama's campaign.

Soledad O'Brien has got a special guest from the Congressional Black Caucus -- Soledad.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, ANCHOR, STARTING POINT: Talking to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

It's nice to see you, sir. Obviously you were the one who gave a fiery speech earlier in this very hall not that long ago. Give ne a sense of what you thought of President Clinton's speech.

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Well, I think President Clinton was a revivalist tonight. Not a revisionist. Revisionist. A revivalist. I mean he actually took us back then brought us to the day, and he did it in a way that everybody can relate to and can go home and talk about. I mean we have to get energized. This is not 2008. This is a different kind of campaign. And it means that we've got to have people excited to go out and bring others out.

O'BRIEN: It seems to me that he was walking people through almost with a white board sort of thing, if you will, to talk about what they, meaning the GOP, are saying versus what the Democrats are saying. Is he going to take this message further, do you believe? I mean does it end right here?

CLEAVER: Well, the president has asked -- President Obama has asked President Clinton to remain involved in the campaign, and I think that's a smart move. President Clinton has the highest approval rating of any president or former elected official on a national level. So people will listen to him, including that 7 or 10 percent of the independents who are still trying to make up their minds.

O'BRIEN: Do you think what he said work for them, that tiny sliver? Some say it's 4 percent.

CLEAVER: Well, I -- yes, I do think it worked because this was not difficult math that the president demonstrated tonight. And I would challenge anybody to challenge the president -- President Clinton on his presentation, on the authenticity and the factuality of his statement.

I mean the president had us on his feet, but he also had us using our brains, and that's what I think that 4 percent to 10 percent of the independents are going to do. They're thinkers. And that's why they're independents, they're trying to figure out everything and I think the president made it very clear to them tonight.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Cleaver, nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us.

CLEAVER: Good to talk with you.

O'BRIEN: We certainly appreciate it.

Wolf, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, Soledad.

Jessica Yellin is here with me. We're watching what's going on.

You know, I have to say this, 20 years I've been covering Bill Clinton. Watching him very, very -- he never ceases to amaze.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: One of a Clinton supporter that I've used as a source for many years e-mailed and said, his greatest speech ever and it wasn't for himself.

You know, these Clinton loyalists are so devoted that it was for another president. You know, they're so convinced that he is such a great person and always a great speaker.

In a way, it was for himself, Wolf. It was for a validation of his presidency, the continuation of a Clinton legacy, and also you'll recall that during the Obama candidacy, he once said that the greatest president that he wants to model himself after is Ronald Reagan and the Clintons took that as a big slap, that it wasn't the Clintons, and Bill Clinton himself.

And so the fact the Obamas are now allying themselves with the Clintons, I think, reaffirms to Bill Clinton that his star is on the rise again, that his legacy is solid. And he seized this moment for himself in part and also clearly with such a message for the president as well.

BLITZER: You know, one other thing as I go back to Anderson. Anderson, you know, this president, the former president, Bill Clinton, he suffered from major heart disease. He had two, two heart surgeries over these past few years. He's been on a special diet, a vegetarian diet, beyond that a vegan diet. He's eating a lot of legumes and things like that, he's been exercising a lot.

You know, and some people thought maybe he was losing it, maybe he was losing some of that pizzazz, some of that spark, but clearly tonight he showed he has just about, if not more, of that fire in his belly as a political person that he had before all of that heart disease, all of the problems that he's gone through in the more recent years. It was really an amazing performance.

COOPER: Yes, certainly a good testament to a vegan diet. Makes me want to actually give it a try. And worth it just to hear Wolf Blitzer say legumes. I've never heard that before.

(LAUGHTER)

We're joined by David Gergen is here, Carly Fiorina has joined us, Donna Brazile, Gloria Borger, John King.

Carly, what do you think tonight?

CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, first it was vintage Clinton. It was a great speech. I mean he's wonderful to watch. He's wonderful to listen to. I found the structure of the speech kind of interesting. He started out talking about cooperation and the whole world is based on cooperation, things get done on cooperation, and then he proceeded to absolutely demonize Republicans as being responsible for everything that's gone wrong.

I thought that was quite interesting. We know from history that Clinton has the ability to passionately speak about things that may or may not be true, and I think he was fast and loose with a couple of facts. But the thing that I think was missing from this fantastic speech was any sense of what's coming next.

He was doing a great defense, as good as it could be done, of Barack Obama's last four years including leaving some really important things out, like how much the debt grew on his watch, but he never said what was going to happen next.

COOPER: And --

FIORINA: And I think it's missing.

COOPER: And Paul Begala was saying tomorrow night, and David was saying this as well, that is going to be President Obama's challenge.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I thought President Clinton knocked it out of the ballpark. I've heard a lot of nominating speeches in my lifetime, and I've heard a lot of Bill Clinton speeches in my lifetime.

COOPER: Have you ever heard a nominating speech as long as this one?

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: You know what, it wasn't the length that mattered, it was the words, the collection of words, the deliberated tone, the substance. It wasn't about sound bite. It wasn't just about refuting all the misleading things that the Republicans have said about President Obama. It was really laying the foundation of what President Obama will finally answer tomorrow. What are we going to do together to get this economy moving again?

You know, he said, and I love this, I get it, I knew it, I've been there. He's been in the Oval Office, he's seen the challenges, he understands the crisis. And I thought tonight Bill Clinton told the American people, this president understands these problems and he is fixing them.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Do you have any doubt that he's going to be out on the campaign trail a lot?

BRAZILE: He's already down on the campaign trail. He's raising money for the president's team. But one thing I know about Bill Clinton, and this is something as Al Gore's former as campaign manager. Bill Clinton is not only a good speaker but he's a great strategist. He's someone that wants to get in a room with David Axelrod and help --

COOPER: Is he in the room? What about -- what is the relationship --

BRAZILE: Not in a day-to-day.

COOPER: Right.

BRAZILE: But he -- look, in order for Bill Clinton to get up here and give a speech like that, Bill Clinton is involved at some level of strategy. He likes to know what's going on.

BORGER: Right. But nobody in the campaign wants Bill Clinton to run -- to run this campaign. To me the interesting thing was also -- and Carly, you know this, Republicans are now, are we better off, are we better off than we were four years ago? Bill Clinton took it head on. And he said, you bet we are better off because we have health care reform, for example. We have the auto bailout. We are not losing 750,000 jobs a month.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: He made the same facts but he wrapped them up so beautifully.

BORGER: Well, but he told the story and he told the story of the hole we were in and how we're coming out of it. And that was kind of the arch of his speech. And nobody does it better than he does, not even President Obama. The bar is very high.

KING: And one of the important things to remember is we have an incumbent president and elections work in arcs. And sometimes the voters give up on the incumbent. Barack Obama has to close the deal. He has to sell the new car. But first he has to get the American people to come back to the dealership, and that's what Bill Clinton was trying to do tonight.

In 1992 people gave up on George H. W. Bush. And so in September and October he was running around the country saying, look at the economic statistics. They're getting better. They had already decided they were going to a new dealer. Bill Clinton was trying -- Bill Clinton's job was try to say, do not give up on this guy. At least give him a chance. Now President Obama has to close the sale.

GERGEN: And as we come out of the stratosphere a little bit, there is a tension in this party for this hall tonight. And I think one of the questions that Barack Obama has to answer is in this second term, is he going to be a Bill Clinton Democrat or is he going to be an Elizabeth Warren Democrat? And there's a real difference --

COOPER: You mean is he going to come to the center?

GERGEN: Yes, well -- what we heard from Elizabeth Warren, she emerged here tonight as a liberal heroine. As a heroine of the left in this party. There was huge, thunderous applause for her. They really liked that speech. But it was a very anti-Wall Street speech. It was exactly the kind of speech that people on Wall Street say, we can't deal with these people, we can't work with them, work with them, they're hostile.

Bill Clinton, you know, had Bob Rubin from Goldman Sachs as his top economic adviser. It's a very different approach. He thinks you've got to work with Wall Street. He thinks you've got to work with business community. And I do think that there's an --

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: Well, and of course Bill Clinton signed financial deregulation. The other thing I wanted to say, I think Bill Clinton did as good a job as you could do telling the story of these facts. The auto bailout we're better off, health care we're better off. He, as many gifted speakers do, he left out some other facts. Poverty is at a 50-year high. Small business destruction is at a 40-year high.

We just dropped from number one in global competitiveness in January of 2009 to number seven today. All of these on -- on President Obama's watch. Those facts he left out. And so I hope the Republicans will continue on the path of, are we better off? Let's look at the all the facts. Not just selective facts.

BRAZILE: Republicans cannot just simply raise the questions that they want Democrats to answer, they must also come up with plans and strategies, and what they will do to reduce poverty, which I'm glad somebody mentioned the word poverty. Because that is a problem. Now one of the things Bill Clinton said is that we have to grow the middle class and give people who are working for a path to the middle class. That is the strategy, that is the plan, that the Democrats have put forward. But you know, I got to tell you something. I love a good term and especially on these nights.

Because what Bill Clinton did was energize the Democrats. We always talk about enthusiasm gap. We talk about whether or not we're going to get young voters and others who voted the first time in 2008. Tonight I tell you one thing, if you had an issue or you were thinking about sitting at home, Bill Clinton said, you know what, get on your feet and let's get out to vote.

BORGER: Donna, I was just e-mailing a senior Obama adviser, and not surprisingly, he said to me that Bill Clinton did exactly what we hoped he would.

KING: And Anderson, you made an important point -- I'm sorry.

BORGER: No.

KING: You made an important point earlier. Bill Clinton mentioned the Simpson-Bowles Commission, saying he thought that was a good framework. Barack Obama, his commission walked away from that poll. Ryan walked away from that. Why? The Republicans weren't ready to put revenues on the table. The president was not going to come to this convention in a base election year where you can turn out your base, and say he was going to cut Medicare and do the spending cuts, so we're going to have to have an election first before we decide what comes next.

COOPER: We're going to have our panelists' top takeaway from this night. Piers Morgan is also ahead. Our coverage continues as we continue to watch the roll call. Again, out top takeaway when we return. We're going to take a short break. Our coverage live from the DNC continues. Live from Charlotte, North Carolina. Quite a night. More ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, united by the progress we've made and the opportunity to continue that progress --

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