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Remembering Bill’s Greatest Speech

‘He Should Have Been Done About Five Minutes Ago…’

• September 5, 2012 3:55 pm

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Former President Bill Clinton will speak tonight at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, and many convention-goers predict a rousing moment that will assuage America’s doubts about President Obama’s qualifications for a second term.

History suggests such hopes may be dashed, however.

Clinton first addressed the DNC in primetime in Atlanta in 1988, exceeding his allotted speaking time with a speech endorsing presidential nominee Michael Dukakis and also listing, in great detail, most of America’s problems. Clinton continued speaking amid the crowd’s restlessness, confusion, and occasional boos.

"We’re going to be here. We’ll have to be here until this whole proceeding is over, but at the same time they have to be aware of the, uh, television audience and whether or not it is staying with this lengthy speech," said then-NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

"I think they’re long past the period, Tom, of listening to Governor Bill Clinton," then-NBC correspondent Chris Wallace said from the convention floor. "It has gone on so long that he has completely lost this crowd."

"It seems that Bill Clinton has overstayed his welcome here in this hall," Wallace said.

One of the most famous moments of the exceedingly long address came toward the end, when Clinton said, "In conclusion," and the arena burst into applause.

Dukakis would go on to lose 40 states and the election to George H.W. Bush.