updated 08/28/2008 AT 12:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/27/2008 AT 11:55 PM ET
Bill Clinton knew the bar was high. The day after his wife and former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton “rocked” the Democratic convention, in the words of Barack Obama, the former president took a turn at the podium to rally the Democratic faithful.
“I’m not so grateful for the chance to speak in the wake of [Hillary’s] magnificent address last night,” he joked of his wife’s rousing reception. “But I’ll do my best.”
Clinton, who was greeted with thunderous applause, praised his wife saying, he is “proud of the campaign she ran.” But he urged Hillary’s supporters to back her former rival, saying, ”I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.”
Added Clinton, “Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world.”
Clinton was followed on stage by Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and then, in a surprise appearance that sent a pulse of energy through the packed crowd, Barack Obama himself.
It had been a day of triumph for former president Clinton, who spent much of it sequestered in a suite at Denver’s historic Brown Palace Hotel, working on his speech, according to a source close to the Clintons. It was the same suite where, the night before, Bill, Hillary and their daughter Chelsea celebrated Hillary’s speech – described by some as the best of her career – over drinks with some 20 friends until 3 a.m.
“He used the word ‘unbelievable’ more than once,” said the source. “It’s been an emotional time in their lives.”
Clinton, after his own speech, did not plan such a blowout. After watching the rest of the evening proceedings with Hillary and Chelsea, he was scheduled to attend a private party for alums of the Clinton-Gore White House and then fly to his home in suburban New York before midnight.