Clinton forcefully endorses Obama

Bill Clinton gave his endorsement to Barack Obama's bid saying Mr Obama is "ready to lead America."

Bill Clinton gestures while addressing the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
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DENVER // Bill Clinton gave a full-throated endorsement to Barack Obama's bid for the White House yesterday, telling delegates to the Democratic convention that Mr Obama is "ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world." Mr Clinton pushed back against attacks - initiated by himself and his wife during the bitter primary campaign, and later taken up by the Republican contender John McCain - that Mr Obama is ill-prepared for the White House, especially on matters of national defence. But he also suggested that on such weighty issues, Mr Obama would be leaning on his seasoned vice president, six-term Senator Joe Biden. "With Joe Biden's experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama's proven understanding, insight and good instincts, America will have the national security leadership we need," Mr Clinton said. Mr Clinton campaigned feverishly for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in her long-fought primary battle against Mr Obama, and took her loss hard. He had not spoken out strongly in support of Mr Obama since he clinched the nomination in June. But yesterday, he was unambiguous in passing the torch of Democratic leadership to Mr Obama. Jabbing a finger at thousands of cheering delegates, he declared: "I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November." Running just over 20 minutes, Mr Clinton's speech whipped thousands of delegates into a frenzy. Where a night before they had hoisted "Hillary" banners, on this night they waved American flags, symbols of the unity the fractious party seeks. The delegates stood on their feet and roared for more than three minutes when Mr Clinton walked on stage. Mr Clinton, ever mindful of himself, likened Mr Obama's presidential quest to his own bid for the presidency in 1992, when "Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander in chief." "Sound familiar?" Mr Clinton said. "It didn't work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it won't work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history." Mr Clinton's challenge last night was large, because he himself had questioned Mr Obama's credentials. During the primary race, the former president tried to raise doubts about whether the first-term Illinois senator had the experience to lead the country. He said Mr Obama's opposition to the Iraq war was a "fairy tale." Last fall, he dismissed Mr Obama as totally unqualified. "I mean, when is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?" Mr Clinton said in an interview. *AP