[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/14/art.billclinton0816.gi.jpg caption="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."