Delegates Comment on Clinton's Speech

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - President Bill Clinton's presence at the Democratic convention was not only appropriate, delegates said, but necessary -- so that he might receive formal accolades for his years of leadership.

"I think it's an excellent idea," said Ken Mass, a Nebraska delegate. "It's an excellent way for [us] to express our feelings for him. Delegates will get the chance to thank him, to applaud him."

Mass, a union member, credited Clinton with raising the minimum wage and campaigning for prescription drug benefits.

"They're not going to win in Nebraska, we know that," Mass said, in reference to Gore's chances for election. "But people will see what's happened the last few years and Al Gore was part of that."

Clinton made some mistakes, Mass said, but they were personal in nature rather than political.

"Anyone that...talks negatively [about the administration]," Minnesota delegate and AIDS victim Rich Stafford agreed, "Well, I think that's just sour grapes. I think it just helps Gore's chances that the Clintons are here."

The Clinton administration has done much to stabilize the economy, Stafford said, accomplishing "what even Ronald Reagan couldn't do in terms of growth and balancing the budget.

"I'm a big supporter of him politically, but I'm disappointed in him personally," he continued, referring to the scandals that rocked the administration. "It has a little effect on Gore, but I give people credit to separate the two, and as Christians -- like I am -- that's what we should do."

"I think it's just spin," said Jim Edmunson, chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, discussing concerns about Clinton negatively impacting Gore's campaign by addressing the convention attendees. "He needs to be here tonight for a farewell and a thank you."

Edmunson and Maria Smithson, the vice chair of the Oregon Democratic Party, credited the Clinton administration with achieving "unprecedented" economic growth and demanding Congress consider various health care and education reforms.

"Bill Clinton is the energizer bunny of health care," Edmunson said. "He just keeps pushing and pushing...and Al Gore is part of this administration and it's an honor for [Clinton] to speak for him."