MIAMI, Fla. – Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday continued to relish his unofficial role as the chief explainer of what is at stake in the November election, this time tailoring his message to the young crowd gathered at Florida International University.
Speaking to 2,300 supporters, including many students, Clinton used the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks as a chance to talk about the importance of service -- specifically voting.
"I keep reading that young people are not quite sure if they're going to vote. I tried to argue down in Charlotte last week that that's a mistake, that we have a lot of reasons to vote and we have a good candidate to vote for," said Clinton.
Young Americans were a key group that helped propel President Obama to victory in 2008, but polling shows that enthusiasm has not matched the level of four years ago.
In Florida, Clinton also reached out to older Americans, saying Republicans have spread "misinformation" about Democrats plans for Medicare. It is the same misinformation that led the GOP to an electoral landslide in the 2010 midterms, Clinton said.
"They got away with running this old dog through the chute in 2010 and countless thousands of seniors voted because they were given misinformation against people who supported a plan to strengthen Medicare," said Clinton. "So I'm talking about it everywhere because the first time they did it, it was their fault. If we let it happen again, it is out fault."
Clinton also fought back against the claims vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and other Republicans have made, arguing that Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare.
"Embarrassingly for the Republicans, the nominee for vice president who's chair of the house budget committee, produced a budget that had exactly the same callings for savings that the Obama budget did, and that was true in 2010 when they were advertising against it. Now, as I said in Charlotte, you got to hand it to them; it takes real brass to attack people for doing what you did," Clinton said.
According to a Pew Research poll, Clinton's keynote address last week was for many the highlight of the Democratic convention, drawing an even more favorable rating than Obama's speech. It was a straight-forward assessment of why the president deserves re-election, and it is the same message he took down to the swing-state of Florida on Tuesday. The man who has been dubbed the "Explainer-in-chief" heads to Orlando Wednesday for another rally.
Along with Medicare and the economic recovery, Clinton also defended the president's record on solar energy and the often shied away topic of the stimulus, saying it helped prevent even high levels of unemployment. All of it, Clinton said, has laid the foundation for an economic recovery that will be at risk if Mitt Romney is elected.
"The test is not whether you think everything is hunky-dory. If that were the test, the president would vote against himself. He said that everything is not hunky-dory," he said. "The test is whether he's taken us in the right direction, and the answer is yes."