CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton will argue in his speech to the Democratic convention on Wednesday that President Barack Obama's re-election is critical to restoring a vibrant, job-generating economy.
Clinton, the party's most popular elder statesman, will highlight the second night of the convention with a speech designed to remind voters of the budget surpluses and job growth he led in the 1990s during his two terms in the White House.
Clinton rejected the criticism of Obama's economic leadership leveled by Republican challenger Mitt Romney and others at their convention last week in Tampa, Florida.
"In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's re-election was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn't finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in," Clinton will say, according to excerpts released by Obama's campaign.
"I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators," he said in the excerpts.
Clinton said voters will have a choice between the leadership of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on the one hand, and the Republican economic approach, which includes more deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy.
"The most important question is, what kind of country do you want to live in? If you want a you're-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility -- a we're-all-in-this-together society -- you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden," he said.
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Alistair Bell and Alden Bentley)