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Obama banks on Bill Clinton to clinch NC

Posted November 3, 2012

— Republican Mitt Romney has millionaire backers, a huge staff and years of campaign experience, which may be enough to win the White House. President Barack Obama has one asset Romney can't match, however: Bill Clinton.

The former president is sprinting through battleground states, delivering more speeches than Obama himself and, arguably, carrying much of the president's re-election hopes on his 66-year-old shoulders.

There's nothing secret about this campaign weapon. If it's a competitive state, Clinton is there — and there and there — picking apart Romney's proposals in the folksy yet detailed style he unleashed at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.

He'll make his pitch Sunday evening Raleigh at Pullen Park. Gates open there at 3:30 p.m., according to an Obama spokesman, but given the former president's hectic travel schedule, a precise time for the speech has not been released.

Free tickets to Clinton speech | WRAL.com will carry the speech live.

Clinton will start his day in New Hampshire for a joint event with Obama and has another event scheduled in the evening.

In a speech Friday in Florida, Clinton mixed nostalgia with lawyerly dissections when criticizing Romney's tax-cut plans in Palm Bay, the day's second stop, south of Cape Canaveral.

"I don't understand how people like me could sleep at night taking another tax cut, and taking it away from you," he said to cheers from several hundred people, who clearly did not resent his post-presidential wealth.

After shucking his suit jacket and loosening his orange tie under a brilliant midday sun, Clinton rattled off statistics about recent slowdowns in the growth of health care costs, and benefits of Obama's health law. "That is what Mr. Romney wants to repeal," he said.

"Bring it home, Bill," a woman shouted.

At every stop, Clinton praises Obama effusively, but he also reminds voters of his own days in office.

"I am the only living former president that ever gave you a budget surplus," he said in Palm Bay. Obama's policies, he adds, are much more in line with his than are Romney's.

Obama amplifies Clinton's boasts, knowing they give credence to the endorsements. In one Ohio stop Friday, Obama named Clinton four times.

"For eight years we had a president who shared our beliefs, and his name was Bill Clinton," Obama said. "His economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in the skills and ideas of our people." Romney opposed that plan, Obama said, and his math "was just as bad back then as it was today."

The white-haired Clinton looks drawn and tired at times, and he makes a few flubs. He apologized this week for saluting Pennsylvania when he happened to be in Ohio.

Clinton still runs late, even at morning events. Former Vice President Walter Mondale had to spin political yarns to kill time this week as voters waited in Minneapolis.

But the man who once headlined nine events in one day for his wife in the 2008 North Carolina primary — when Hillary Rodham Clinton was battling Obama — still feeds off crowds' energy and affection.

In Green Bay, Wis., Clinton gave a 57-minute dissertation on why the economy is better than many think. The only reason the Obama-Romney race is close, he said, "is because Americans are impatient on things not made before yesterday, and they don't understand why the economy is not totally hunky-dory again."

Clinton campaigned for Obama on Thursday in Wisconsin and Ohio. Earlier in the week he was in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and New Hampshire.

He will join Obama on Saturday for a rally in Virginia and on Sunday morning for an event in New Hampshire. Clinton also will campaign Sunday in North Carolina and Minnesota. And on Monday, the Obama camp hopes Clinton will snuff out any possible Romney eruption in Pennsylvania, scheduling stops for him in Pittsburgh and Scranton, plus two in Philadelphia.

No state underscores Clinton's value more than Florida, where the Republican Bush family looms large. While Obama makes every possible use of his party's most recent president, Romney can hardly mention George W. Bush, who left office amid an economic collapse and an unpopular war in Iraq.

Romney campaigned Thursday in Tampa, however, with Bush's brother Jeb, a former Florida governor who remains widely popular.

Much has been made of Clinton's once-frosty relationship with Obama. Clinton, among other things, in 2008 called Obama's history of opposing the Iraq war a "fairy tale."

The two men may never be chums. But Clinton's endorsements now seem full-throated. It delights Democratic loyalists.

"The Republicans have nothing to match the personal appeal and persuasive power of President Clinton," said Doug Hattaway, a consultant with close ties to the Clintons. "He can energize Democrats and close the deal with moderate swing voters."

Bruce Marvin, who attended Clinton's event in Chillicothe, Ohio, said the ex-president explains Obama's plans even more understandably than does the nominee.

"I think it's backing up what Obama may not have been able to get across," Marvin said. 

14 Comments

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  • Marty King Nov 5, 5:49 p.m.

    Clinton lost what little credibility he had by pushing Obama.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Nov 5, 4:15 p.m.

    President Obama will be the winner. Stay tune.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 5, 1:49 p.m.

    "If a person had treated my wife like Obama did Hillary in 2008, I certainly wouldn't be racing around the country carrying his water."

    Clinton is trying to build up good will so Hilliary can take another shot at the Presidency in 2016. He probably is hoping Obama will lose. That sets up Hilliary to be able to run against a Republican incumbent in 2016, but Hilliary will have the new problem of explaining her failure as Secretary of State. By all rights Obama should have fired her, but I expect he knew everything she knew about Libya and he does not what her leaking that prior to the election.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 5, 1:46 p.m.

    "I don't understand how people like me could sleep at night taking another tax cut, and taking it away from you," he said to cheers from several hundred people, who clearly did not resent his post-presidential wealth."

    A tax cut does not take money away from anyone. It simply allows the person that earned the money to keep more of it. Clinton ought to also tell these people that prior to Bush the lowest tax rate was 15 percent. So really, who is it that was taking money from these fools that are cheering?

  • topfan4unc Nov 5, 1:36 p.m.

    Typical.....one well known liar supporting another prolific liar!!!

  • JoCo50 at MXR Nov 5, 1:06 p.m.

    I'll have to give Bill Clinton credit. He IS being a good soldier for the Obama campaign.

    If a person had treated my wife like Obama did Hillary in 2008, I certainly wouldn't be racing around the country carrying his water.

    Of course, I guess ole Bill would sell Chelsea to the Somalis in exchange for a little audience adoration.

  • Offshore Nov 5, 11:56 a.m.

    Clinton in NC, there to help undecided voters make a decision... to vote for Romney.

  • rightisright58 Nov 5, 10:53 a.m.

    I love it when one liar asks another liar to help him out. Go away Obamas, Clintons, Peloski, Reed, and all of the other RICH, LIARS!

  • krista8119 Nov 5, 10:01 a.m.

    It doesn't matter what Bill Clinton says or does, North Carolina is going for Mitt Romney!!!!

  • lopo Nov 5, 9:47 a.m.

    "Republican Mitt Romney has millionaire backers" Liberals always throw this out how rich he is. Guess who is as rich if not richer, Mayor Bloomberg, the Pelosi's and yes the Clintons's. But thats ok, they understand the poor.

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