Delaware Democrats get pep talk from Bill Clinton

    Bill Clinton wowed the Democratic faithful in Delaware tonight. He praised President Obama and told democrats what they wanted to hear.

    Bill Clinton had Delaware Democrats hanging on every word.

    The former president spoke at the state Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner Tuesday night, held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington.

    “God, I love Delaware,” Clinton began to a standing ovation. “It’s been too long since I’ve been here and I’m glad to be back.”

    About 15-hundred people, at a cost of $45 per ticket, attended the event, which also included remarks from Gov. Jack Markell, Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Ted Kaufman and Delaware attorney general Beau Biden.

    But this was Clinton’s night.

    “People have been betting against this country ever since we started,” he said. “And so far everybody that’s bet against this country has lost money. And don’t you forget it.”

    The speech, which lasted just over an hour, was part pep rally and part college lecture.

    And there was a theme.

    Clinton said there’s a reason Democrats currently hold the office of president and the majority in both houses of Congress. Because, he said, when the country gets in trouble, it “hires” Democrats.

    “They want us to stand and deliver the American Dream again,” he said. “And in this case they have hired the Democrats to get us out of an economic crisis, to put us on a path to long-term prosperity.”

    The nation’s 42nd president also discussed policies regarding education, the economy and the environment. And he showed his support for President Barack Obama for the economic stimulus package and his handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But the topic he spent the most time talking about was health care reform.

    “We have got to do something about health care,” Clinton said. “We need a bill. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It has to push us in the right direction and we need to do it now.”

    The partisan crowd was impressed.

    “Inspiring, brilliant,” said State Representative John Kowalko after watching the address. “He asked us to live up to expectations of being a Democrat. That is to be a doer. To accomplish.”

    Clinton also said the country needs to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries,  saying, “We can’t shoot our way out of problems,” and “we can lead, but not dominate.”

    At one point Beau Biden, who is considering running for the Senate seat held by his father, found himself in the spotlight.

    Clinton thanked Biden for his service both as attorney general and in the National Guard.

    The former president joked that it was hard not to resent someone as young and handsome and thin as the younger Biden.

    Biden, who presented an award later in the program, still has not announced his plans.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.