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Analysis: It was Bill Clinton's night

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By Rebecca Sinderbrand
CNN Political Unit
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DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- For one night, it was like the Democratic Party had entered a parallel dimension, where John Kerry was an electrifying speaker and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were members of a mutual admiration society.

The former president came through for Obama the way his wife had on Tuesday. But oddly, Clinton was upstaged by a near-dynamic John Kerry, joining Al Gore in the club of unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidates who seem to hit their stride after their defeat.

After two nights of consecutive Clinton speeches, Joe Biden had his work cut out for him to claim the spotlight.

Many observers predicted the blunt Delaware senator would fill the attack dog role on the Democratic ticket, but his initial address as the vice presidential nominee was more bark than bite. He steered clear of the harshest language, and never uttered the name of Dick Cheney, the man he is running to replace.

Biden's biographical remarks, however, hit all the right notes, including his working class roots, Irish Catholic background, his gripping personal story, and his Iraq-bound son. Plus, his appeal to middle-class voters suffering from economic anxiety was pitch-perfect.

But Wednesday night belonged to Bill Clinton. If anyone in the Obama camp grumbled that Hillary Clinton's speech failed to repair damage caused by her primary season critique of the Illinois senator, her husband left little doubt where he stood.

"Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world," he said. "Ready to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States." Video Watch Clinton's full speech »

He acknowledged his disappointment with the outcome of the primary season -- and by extension, that of his wife's millions of supporters.

"In the end, my candidate didn't win," he said. "But I'm very proud of the campaign she ran; she never quit on the people she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she wants for all our children."

Sixteen years after he ruled the Democratic convention, Clinton praised Obama in language that should help thaw his slightly chilly relations with African-American voters since his primary season criticism of the presumptive presidential nominee.

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"His life is a 21st-century incarnation of the American dream," Clinton said. "His achievements are proof of our continuing progress toward the 'more perfect union' of our founders' dreams."

Now, after three days dominated by curiosity over the Clintons and what they would say, how they would say it, and what their supporters would do during Wednesday¹s roll call, Bill Clinton walked off the stage to the Fleetwood Mac refrain that marked his own campaign: "yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone."

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