By Charles Riley, staff reporterDecember 10, 2010: 7:17 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Former President Bill Clinton took to the White House podium Friday and delivered a ringing endorsement of the tax compromise struck earlier this week by President Obama and Republican lawmakers.
"The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans," Clinton said.
The deal will "maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs, and to minimize the chances that it will slip back," he added.
Clinton delivered his comments in a press conference that was remarkable for starting with two presidents and ending with one. Obama excused himself from the room shortly after introducing Clinton, saying he had one more Christmas party to attend and was keeping the first lady waiting.
Clinton went on to mount a vigorous defense of the compromise, saying he had studied the economic situation, and that both the politics and policies of the deal made sense.
"I still spend about an hour a day trying to study this economy. And I'm not running for anything and I don't have a political agenda," Clinton said. "I just try to figure out what to do."
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Clinton made clear that it was not the $544.3 billion tax cut extension that led to his endorsement.