CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Thursday said voters should not be fooled by President Clinton’s embrace of President Obama.

“President Clinton gave a great speech, but he had to have a real hard time giving that speech,” McDonnell told reporters at a Republican National Committee press conference a short distance from the Democratic National Convention. “This administration is not the same party and not the same philosophy as President Bill Clinton.” 

Recognizing the widespread praise of Clinton’s prime-time DNC speech Wednesday, Republicans are trying to drive a wedge between voters’ perceptions of Obama and the last Democratic president.

McDonnell and other surrogates for Mitt Romney said that while Clinton asked voters to renew Obama’s contract, the current Democratic Party no longer resembles the budget-balancing party over which Clinton presided.

McDonnell said he’s expecting a “very good speech” from Obama Thursday night, but insisted that Obama won’t provide the leadership needed to back it up.

Instead, McDonnell accused Obama of recycling excuses about inheriting an economic mess that couldn’t be fixed in just four years.

“That was a heroic effort from team-player Bill Clinton,” McDonnell said. “He doesn’t believe it. [Clinton] did it in four years.”

But once the convention ends, McDonnell added, “You’re going to get back to what Americans really care about. How do we reverse this horrible trend of debt and deficits?”