At the Republican convention they naturally portrayed Barack Obama as a bad president.

They criticised his record on jobs and the economy.

A week later, at the Democratic convention, Bill Clinton made a speech in support of Obama.

It was a lesson in great advertising writing.

Full of facts and figures, but presented in a way ordinary people can understand.

Clinton’s main theme throughout was jobs.

He kept returning to this, totting up numbers as he went:

“Since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. 

In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. 

What’s the jobs score? 

Republicans 24 million.

Democrats 42 million!”

Not opinion, you notice, facts.

In language ordinary working people can understand:
“In 2010, things began to turn around.

In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. 

But last year, the Republicans blocked the President’s jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs.

So here’s another jobs score:

President Obama plus 4.5 million,

Congressional Republicans zero.”

Clinton knows ordinary people watch a lot of sport on TV.

They understand numbers when they’re presented as sports scores.

Which is why he did it this way, time and again:

“Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry. 

Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score:

Obama two hundred and fifty thousand.

Romney, zero.”

This wasn’t cover-your-arse political doublespeak.

Just straight blue-collar language.

And he also explained in plain language, why some of Obama’s policies had failed.

And who the real culprits were:

“President Obama also tried to work with Congressional Republicans on Health Care, debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn’t work out so well. 

Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader said, their number one priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work.”

And Clinton wrapped up his argument with a final score:

“Are we where we want to be?


Is the President satisfied?


Are we better off than we were when he took office, with the economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month? 

The answer can only be YES.”

In leaving the subject, Clinton brilliantly summed up the situation for ordinary people:
“The Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”
Then Clinton moved on to Medicare.

He countered the Republican accusations, again in plain language:

“The Republicans attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars.

Here’s what really happened.

There were no cuts to benefits.


What the President did was save money by cutting subsidies to insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier.

He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program.

Governor Romney wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, to re-open the donut hole.”

How brilliant is that?

Clinton gives everyone a simple visual mnemonic for a complicated funding issue.

There’s a doughnut hole in Medicare funding.

Obama wants to close the doughnut hole.

Romney wants to make the doughnut hole bigger.

Finally, Clinton explained the problems with the Republicans’ tax cuts for the rich, in a simple powerful mnemonic:

People ask me all the time how my government delivered four surplus budgets. 

I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic. 

If the Republicans stay with their 5 trillion dollar tax cut, the arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen:

1) Middle class families will see their tax bill go up two thousand dollars a year, while people making over 3 million dollars a year will get a 250,000 dollar tax cut.

2) They’ll have to cut programs that help middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research.

3) They’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now – cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy.”

That was the build up to the unarguable fact: 

“Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left.”

And ending on the brilliant mnemonic: 

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

And that last line for me is the killer.

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

Most people know the Republican ‘trickle-down’ theory of growth.

Make the wealthy even wealthier and some of it will eventually make its way down to the poor.

Most people also know the expression for increasing a bet by 100% is “double down”.

Clinton portrays the Republicans as flashy Las Vegas gamblers willing to risk everything on a crazy theory.

“We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.”

I was reading that Clinton had been having a discussion with a journalist the night before his speech.

The journalist had asked him what the content of his speech was.

Clinton didn’t want to go into detail.

He just said “When people are hurting, explanation trumps eloquence every time.”


That’s a really great lesson in how to write ads.