CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Former president Bill Clinton received a hero's welcome Wednesday during a rousing speech in support of President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.
It was a night of drama at the convention, a mix of the past, present and future.
Former president Clinton brought the delegates to their feet several times with an aggressive defense of President Obama's four years in office and a cutting critique of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.
Mr. Clinton defended Mr. Obama's record on job creation, foreign policy and the passage of the president's signature health care reform law, all in the face of aggressive opposition from Republicans.
Mr. Clinton reminded Democrats that some prominent Republicans promised early on in President Obama's term to make his defeat their top priority.
“Their number one priority was not to put America back to work. It was to put the president out of work,” he said.
Bill Clinton urged Democrats to rally around Mr. Obama in what promises to be a close election in November, He said Americans must make an important choice in the days ahead.
“If you want a ‘winner take all, you're on your own’ society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities, a ‘we're all in this together’ society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden,” he said.
Carolyn Presutti reports from Charlotte, North Carolina
Delegates let out a loud cheer at the end of Mr. Clinton's speech as he was briefly joined onstage by President Obama. After a quick embrace, the two men moved off stage together, setting up Thursday's convention climax, when the president will deliver his formal acceptance speech.
Democratic delegates were still buzzing earlier in the day about Tuesday's speech by first lady Michelle Obama, who gave an impassioned and, at times, emotional defense of her husband.
Georgia delegate Al Williams says that with all signs pointing to a close election in November, Democrats in Charlotte are eager to close ranks behind President Obama.
“I feel great about it. I'm fired up. This is my fifth convention in 40 years and it's exciting, and this is a fueling station for the troops, so everybody is here to get fueled up for the run,” he said.
The convention builds to a dramatic conclusion Thursday when Mr. Obama gives his acceptance speech before thousands of delegates in the arena and millions watching on nationwide television.
Organizers had planned for the president to give his speech at an outdoor football stadium, but the threat of bad weather forced them to move it inside to the convention hall.
Analysts expect the president’s acceptance speech to focus on the economy, easily the key issue in this year's campaign.
Pollster John Zogby says Mr. Obama must find a way to defend what he says is, at best, a mixed record on the economy.
“The question is not ‘are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ The question is ‘are you better off than you would have been had the other side won (in 2008),"he said.
Following the conventions, the final phase of the presidential campaign will get under way, with the next major event the first of three presidential debates on October 3.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Democratic National Convention