August 14th, 2009
05:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Bill Clinton: 'The president needs your help'

Bill Clinton on Thursday urged supporters of President Obama's health care plan to voice their support.
Bill Clinton on Thursday urged supporters of President Obama's health care plan to voice their support.

(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton was on his toes - and on message - as he urged supporters of President Barack Obama's health care reform agenda to step up their efforts.

Speaking Thursday to a crowd of political activists at the annual Netroots Nation convention in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Clinton said a big victory on health care would have serious political implications.

"The president needs your help," Clinton said. "The minute the president signs this bill, his approval will go up. Within a year, when the good things begin to happen, and the bad things they're saying will happen don't happen, approval will explode."

The four-day convention for left-leaning bloggers, thinkers and activists is themed "This ain't no tea party." It's a not-so-subtle jab at recent conservative grassroots efforts against the White House's fiscal agenda.

"Everybody knows what happened in 1993 and 1994," Clinton said, referencing his own administration's failed attempts at health care reform. "One thing we know is that if you get out there and do not prevail the victors get to rewrite history."

Most of the speech centered on mainstay Democratic issues, and Clinton - fresh off of his trip to North Korea to bring home then-imprisoned American journalists - was in top rhetorical form.

"You are the trustees of this moment," he told the crowd. But his speech didn't exactly go off without a hitch: In a moment somewhat reminiscent of the contentious health care town hall meetings around the country, Clinton was at one point forced to defend himself from a heckler demanding answers on gay rights issues.

"You want to talk about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell?'" Clinton fired back when gay activist Lane Hudson asked about the the controversial military policy. "I'll tell you exactly what happened. You couldn't deliver me any support in Congress, and they voted by a veto-proof majority in both houses against my attempts to let gays serve in the military, and the media supported them."

Throughout his speech, Clinton defended his previous work on progressive initiatives as he urged the audience to make their voices heard.

"We cannot be in the peanut gallery," he said. "We cannot ask the president or Congress to do it alone."


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Health care
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. jon

    Did he get Hillary's permission to speak?

    August 14, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  2. S Callahan

    Geez, just when I'm conviced people are on the up and up something comes along and I read things (see above) that makes me think I am wittnessing the last chapter of Revelations..... can't change what will be...

    August 14, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Obama sure needs someone's help. 58% of the population wants him to take his socialised medicine and just go away! Someone needs to get past Pelosi and tell Barack to back off.

    August 14, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. DL

    Here's what I don't get, other countries obviously have better systems that are cheaper than we do. And those that say we have the best are just flat out lying. Doesn't anybody realize if we adopted a better health care system you might see some jobs start returning to the US? Now everything is moving off shores and a HUGE part of it is health care costs, its why more employers are dropping it, and look at GM they went belly up as a result. Going to a socialized system would be WORTH it just for that simple fact. Then EVERYBODY gets same treatment, rich or poor (which obviously doesn't sit well with rich) so the rich can spend more on these updated policies so they still have their luxuries and optional procedures, while everybody else can at LEAST get BASIC health care. And the people who cry about taxes...your insurance rates have gone up 450% in past 8 years...they will again in the next 8...EVEN IF YOU HAVE A TAX INCREASE it will still be WAY CHEAPER than what you are spending now...WAKE UP AMERICA!!

    August 14, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  5. Robert

    I sent letters to my Editors, I contacted my Senators, I called in to a talk show host, I'm posting to these blogs and message boards daily, talking to family and friends, emailing talking points.... oh yeah, you better believe this health care act is going to become a bill and is going to pass.

    August 14, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  6. marty

    One more good reason to oppose the health care plan being touted.

    August 14, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  7. Mike O

    I hope they do keep pushing the health care 'reform', Cap and Trade, and immigration 'reform'. Then the Dems can look back on the election of '94 as a fond memory compared to 2010.

    August 14, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  8. George

    America needs help, not just Obama. Why is it that the winners are treated like losers and the losers are treated like winners? Palin is sucking up all the press. She is a loser and a quitter. If McCain passes wind its headlines. He too was a loser. Obama is truly trying to clean up the Bush mess plus health care reform, and he is treated like he is the loser. Wow, a half witted moose hunting lady gets the neon lights.
    America, how bout we set our priorities higher than the media does. All networks are just as bad. It's not just CNN. Quit listining to the fear tactics, and lies and lets get health care reform passed, with a public option. Forget the bi-partisam approach. Democrats, pass the bill you want and do it as soon as you get back to Washington. America needs you and President Obama. And Bill Clinton is right,and is to be commended. He never quit caring about America.President Obama needs our help. Now people its our turn to serve America. Tell your legislators to pass health care reform with a public option NOW. Forget the party of no, and do it NOW

    August 14, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. Jimmy Smith

    Go Bill go! I agree that we need to push through with this. Lets continue the CHANGE that we voted for! Sometimes change is tough, but we must see it through!

    August 15, 2009 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  10. Diana G

    Are there are groups who are planning any "Rally for Health Reform!" demonstrations? Please let supporters know!

    August 15, 2009 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  11. jules sand-perkins

    Obama needs my help? So what? I need my taxes lowered, and he doesn't give a hoot about that. Why should I help him?

    August 15, 2009 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
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