CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama inherited a wreck of an economy, "put a floor under the crash" and laid the foundation for millions of good new jobs, former President Bill Clinton declared Wednesday night in a Democratic National Convention appeal aimed at millions of hard-pressed Americans yet to decide how to vote.
"If you want a you're-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket," Clinton said. "If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility - a we're-all-in-this-together society - you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."
Obama's high command released excerpts of his remarks hours before Clinton's appearance as they worked to control the political fallout from an embarrassing retreat on the party platform.
Under criticism from Republican challenger Mitt Romney, they abruptly rewrote the day-old document to insert a reference to God and to declare that Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel." Some delegates objected loudly, but Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, presiding in the largely-empty hall, ruled them outvoted. White House aides said Obama had personally ordered the changes, but they did not disclose whether he had approved the earlier version.
The episode was an unwanted intrusion for Democratic officials, who scripted the evening to showcase Clinton, popular 12 years after he left office with the budget in balance and now their unofficial ambassador-in-chief to anxious voters in a tough economy.
"In Tampa the Republican argument against the president's re-election was pretty simple: "We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in,"' Clinton said in advance excerpts.
"I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators."
Obama arrived in his convention city earlier in the day, and officials said he would be in the hall when Clinton spoke.
That and the eight-week general election campaign about to begin between Obama and Republican challenger Romney, who spent his second straight day in Vermont preparing for this fall's debates with Obama.
Inside the hall, a parade of speakers praised Obama, but many went relatively easy on Romney after a series of scathing speeches on the convention's opening night.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who sits opposite Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on the House Budget Committee, was something of an exception.
"When President Clinton left office, America had projected surpluses of trillions of dollars over the next decade. Then came two wars, two huge tax cuts tilted to the wealthy and a new entitlement. Republicans didn't pay for any of it. Paul Ryan voted for all of it," he said.
Clinton's speech marked the seventh consecutive convention he has spoken to party delegates, and the latest twist in a relationship with Obama that has veered from frosty to friendly. The two men clashed in 2008, when Obama outran Hillary Rodham Clinton's wife for the Democratic presidential nomination.