CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver gave the safe answer for what he thought was a “safe” speech.”Nothing really surprised me,” Silver told a small group of reporters after President Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday.
That was the consensus on the floor: Obama’s speech was, well, fine. It wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the general reaction from talking heads. But it was thought of as the proverbial “safe” speech, which could have either positive or negative ramifications.
One thing was clear: Though former President Bill Clinton‘s speech provided a huge boost for the president, his own speech didn’t nearly match up.
“What former President Clinton did was he put on a show. He clearly defined what the facts were. Tonight, the president pointed out that it’s about us,” Maryland delegate Timothy Adams said of Obama’s speech. “He wasn’t Clinton, but then I don’t know if you can expect him to be Clinton in this situation.”
Two of Obama’s biggest applause lines came at rather uninspiring overall moments — when he officially accepted the party’s nomination for president and when he told the crowd he had changed in his term.
“I’m not a candidate anymore. I’m the president,” Obama said. When the crowd burst out in applause, he looked as if he didn’t expect it.
The speech marked a difference from a night earlier, when Clinton rocked the Time Warner Cable Arena with one zinger after another. And it even displayed a contrast from Tuesday, when First Lady Michelle Obama riled up the crowd. Clinton did exactly what he was supposed to do, delegates said — tear down Republican attacks. But Clinton’s animated, even epic speech threatens to derail some momentum from the president.
It might be unfair, but the comparisons to Clinton — and even the Obama of 2008 — will ensue during the post-convention hangover. Still, delegates left the convention with enthusiasm at its close.
“He made his case, and it’s important tonight because a lot of people were tuning in and listening to him,” Mississippi delegate Kelly Jacobs said, noting that a lot of people don’t hear the president’s normal stump speech. “Tonight, he was strong and he was forceful. I thought he was commanding.”
Watch Obama’s speech below:
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