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Menino ‘Very Worried’ About A Romney Presidency

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention former President Bill Clinton will deliver a much-anticipated address. Perhaps another speech Boston residents are looking forward to is one set to be delivered by Mayor Thomas Menino.

WBUR’s Bob Oakes is in Charlotte, N.C., covering the DNC and joins WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer to talk about what’s expected.

Sacha Pfeiffer: Let’s start briefly with Clinton. What’s the convention expecting from the former president Wednesday night? 

Bob Oakes: There’s no one in the Democratic party who’s a better motivator and a better political thinker than Bill Clinton. He’s already very present in the Obama campaign with that flight of TV commercials you see everywhere.

In speaking to voters Wednesday, Clinton is likely to touch on the themes stressed in those commercials which boil down to: with Mitt Romney we return to the deregulation and tax-cutting-for-the-wealthy policies of the Bush era, which he’ll argue did not create jobs. And he’ll argue that Barack Obama is the candidate with the plan for the future.

Just standing on the podium will remind delegates of the flush times of the Clinton era, his almost larger-than-life presence alone is a huge motivator.

On to the mayor: What’s the mission of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in his speech?

The mayor’s portfolio is at least two-fold: to dispel the notion that the Obama administration has been ineffective in trying to fix the economy and to focus on big-city issues and the differences expected under a Romney White House or another Obama administration.

We spoke to Mayor Menino about the speech. Here’s what he said about the economic argument:

We continue to have good results. Now we got to make sure the American people understand that because there’s people out there trying to distort the facts … Obama has done some good things as president. We think about the health care piece, innovative ideas in education, the roadways — and I can only talk about Massachusetts — are in better shape than they were in the past.

I understand Menino is going to pitch that Mitt Romney in the White House would be bad for cities, and for Boston in particular.

Yeah, it’s interesting because you know Mayor Menino had a pretty good working relationship with Mitt Romney when Romney was governor but he told us he thinks Romney as president will be a disaster for cities:

I’m very worried about it because all I hear is about cutting back on this program, cutting back.

Bob Oakes: What do you think Boston stands to lose if there’s a President Mitt Romney? 

I think several things: public education, they don’t believe in helping public education in America. I think other issue is health care. What happens when we lose the health care plan in America? Where do those people get health care? That’s a real issue for me.

The mayor’s address to delegates will not exactly be in prime time, will it?

You know, I’m sure it’s an honor to be here and to deliver a speech but Mayor Menino is definitely an opening act at the convention Wednesday. In fact, it’s coming up shortly at about 5:30 p.m. and he won’t be here long. He speaks then pretty quickly hops a plane so that he’s back for the first day of school Wednesday in Boston. And Sacha, he told us he’ll be passing out yellow No. 2 pencils to kids as they arrive to school.

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