Democratic Convention 2012

Poor People Need Goodies, Too, Says Clinton

The former president reaches beyond the much-cultivated middle class

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The Democrats have given so much attention to the plight of the middle class at the convention this week, you'd almost think no one in America is poor. Then Bill Clinton took the stage. As he started his speech last night, delegates were still waving blue-and-white signs that said, "A Stronger Middle Class." The former president spent a lot of time talking about middle-income Americans—I counted nine specific "middle class" references in his speech—but Clinton also made the case that Democrats should provide more help for the poor, and that even those with means should care.

"We Democrats, we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it, with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly share prosperity," he said early in the speech. Defending Obama administration policies that benefit poor Americans, Clinton provided a sharp alternative to the way Republicans have framed the election: as a choice between the party for doers (them) and a party for takers (the Democrats).