Bill Clinton convinced American voters 20 years ago that it was the economy, stupid. That's what mattered and that's why he got elected to his first term.
This week, he tried to convince American voters that it's still the economy. But rather than throw the incumbent out, he made the case -- in his homespun way -- for the incumbent, saying it takes a long time to right a ship that was in even worse shape than what he inherited in 1993.
"No president -- not me, not any of my predecessors -- no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years," Clinton said. "But (President Barack Obama) has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president's contract, you will feel it."
Do you believe him? That's President Obama's task moving forward.
He started Thursday night, but now he must continue to convince not only the rabid Democrats that populated the Charlotte convention hall, but those who believed in the promise of change in 2008 but are wavering today and the independents who may not make up their minds until much closer to the Nov. 6 election.
That day is just two months away. The race for the presidency comes down to just a handful of states. The October debates between Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney may tip the balance. The conventions really were just the start of the sprint to the finish.
What we do know after this week is that Michelle Obama and both Clinton and President Obama know how to deliver a speech.
And we also know, just as we learned last week from the Republicans in Tampa, that the fact checkers will remain in business and will likely be working overtime during these next two months.
The conventions , in short,were good theater.
But just as the Republicans did not see a bump in the polls following their mostly scripted party (Clint Eastwood notwithstanding), Obama advisers say they don't expect much of a bounce either. It's just too close to call.
No matter whom you support -- or if you indeed still don't know, despite the clear differences between the two men and the two parties -- it's incumbent upon you, as we said at the beginning of the Republican convention, to learn all you can, listen carefully and then cast your vote.
After his wife told you that Obama was the same man who so inspired an electorate four years ago, he made his case Thursday night that his vision is the right path to prosperity for all. All he needs is time -- and perhaps a less partisan Washington -- to get it done. Or so says the theme of the campaign.
He doesn't have much more time to make that case. And voters don't have much more time to make a decision.