INDIANAPOLIS – Former President Bill Clinton rallied Democrats on Saturday with a vigorous defense of President Barack Obama, saying that Obama has done what was needed to spark the economy.

Clinton said he believed Obama had acted correctly in pushing through his $787 billion economic stimulus package and the rescue plan for General Motors and Chrysler even though the federal budget deficit could reach a record $1.85 trillion.

"I know we need to worry about this debt," Clinton said. "First we've got to build a bridge over troubled waters and give the president's economic reforms in the finance system time to take hold."

Clinton spoke at a fundraising dinner for the Indiana Democratic Party in his return to a state where he made dozens of campaign stops last year on behalf of his wife Hillary as she faced Obama in the presidential primary.

Obama went on to became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Indiana since 1964, which Clinton told the 1,500 people at Saturday's dinner meant they had a great responsibility to help Obama succeed.

"We are now responsible and we need to get out of the blame business — we're stuck with what we've got — and deal with these challenges," Clinton said. "We will now be judged by what we do."

Party spokesman Thomas Cook declined to say how much money was expected to be raised from the dinner, where tickets cost $125.