Former president Bill Clinton and Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney briefly shared the stage Tuesday at the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
Clinton, who is actively stumping for President Obama’s re-election and has had sharp words for Romney, introduced the Republican candidate by first thanking him for attending and then demonstrating his knack for political deftness.
“If we can’t find ways to cooperate over these issues, we can’t find it anywhere,” Clinton said.
The former president then went on to retell a story about how the unlikely pair had once worked together to help save and expand a Boston-based AmeriCorps program, City Year, where Romney sat on the board and continued to support as governor of Massachusetts.
“[Romney] urged the Republican Congress to continue to support City Year and he urged the White House, and they did,” Clinton explained.
AmeriCorps, of course, is a federally supported national volunteer program, so with that retelling, Clinton demonstrated a bit of political genius. He introduced the enemy with a kind, gentle story that tied him back to a program for which his party, including running mate Paul Ryan, has repeatedly tried to eliminate the funding.
“The podium is yours,” Clinton signed off, shaking the former governor’s hand.
To his credit, Romney kicked things off with a nod of respect to the wildly popular ex-president and host of the event through a joke that caused the audience to break out in applause.
“I appreciate your kind words,” Romney said.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this election season, by the way, it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good,” he joked in reference to President Obama’s post-convention poll boost, which was attributed in part to Clinton's speech. “All I’ve got to do now is wait a couple days for that bounce.”
The rest of Romney’s speech centered on the role of free enterprise and “fair trade” in countries' economic development. Full speech in video below.