Former President Clinton continues to slam Romney at Colorado campaign stops

‘Explainer-in-chief’ delivers stunning blows
The Colorado Statesman

Former President Bill Clinton revved up supporters of President Barack Obama and delivered a ringing denunciation of Republican nominee Mitt Romney at two campaign stops on Tuesday in Commerce City and Denver.

Obama has “got a better jobs plan, he’s got a better health care plan, he’s got a better education plan, he’s got a better budget plan and he’ll keep trying to bring us together,” Clinton told an estimated 2,000 supporters inside a packed gymnasium at Manual High School after speaking earlier to a smaller crowd at Adams City High School.

Contrasting the two candidates’ budget plans, he delivered one of the frequent “can-you-believe-it” shakes of his head and asked, “Now what is the Romney plan? If you had a huge hole, and you hired somebody to fill that hole and gave them a shovel, what would you do if they jumped in that hole and said, ‘First, I want to dig it deeper’?”

Former President Bill Clinton makes a case to reelect President Barack Obama at a rally on Oct. 30 at Manual High School in Denver. “He’s got a better jobs plan, he’s got a better health care plan, he’s got a better education plan, he’s got a better budget plan and he’ll keep trying to bring us together,” he said.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

The pair of hastily arranged appearances filled a rare void in swing-state Colorado’s political calendar mid-week after both Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan cancelled events on the Front Range in the wake of Superstorm Sandy’s devastating blow to the East Coast.

In slimmed-down versions of the speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention in September — prompting Obama to suggest that he name Clinton the “explainer-in-chief” — Clinton spoke without notes for about 25 minutes each time, drawing contrasts between Obama and Romney on everything from health care policies to education spending.

Noting that the first bill Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, he castigated Romney for refusing to say whether he would have backed the measure, which gives employees more time to sue over claims of pay discrimination.

“Now, one thing that George W. Bush said, and I agree with it, is the president is the decider-in-chief. To be the decider-in-chief, you have to decide,” Clinton said, bringing the crowd to its feet.

But he returned again and again to his contention that Obama had turned the economy around, while Romney’s proposals would send the country backwards.

“(Obama) ran for two years for office to fix a very weak economy, and then — boom! —six weeks before the election, we get the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He takes office when we’re losing 800,000 jobs per month, he put a floor under the crash and began the long road back,” said Clinton, emphasizing point after point with a lively index finger.

“Gov. Romney’s case is what it always was,” he continued. “‘We left a mess, it’s not fully fixed; put us in, throw him out; let us do what we did before on steroids.’”

Clinton also hammered Romney for one of the signature promises of his campaign, that he would add 12 million jobs to the economy over the next four years. Before Romney started making that claim, Clinton said, two independent business analysts predicted that “if we don’t do anything to mess up what the president has already done, we’re going to get 12 million jobs.”


“If we don’t do anything to mess up what the president has already done, we’re going to get 12 million jobs,” says former President Bill Clinton, rebutting the significance of Mitt Romney’s campaign pledge that he’ll create the same number of jobs. Clinton spoke at an Obama rally on Oct. 30 at Denver’s Manual High School.
Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Giving the appreciative crowd one of his trademark “who-you-gonna-believe” looks, Clinton summarized: “The essential argument of Gov. Romney is, ‘Hey, I look like a president, I act like a president, I proved I can change my message for any circumstance, so elect me and I’ll claim the credit for the jobs that Barack Obama’s policies are creating.’” Later, he added, “I want the guy at the helm whose policies brought those jobs about, to make sure America’s future is shared.”

The Romney campaign said that Clinton’s visit underscored how worried the Obama campaign must be about carrying Colorado, a state the Democrat won by 9 points in 2008.

“Our nation is at a turning point and voters face a big choice in this election to change our country’s course,” said RNC spokesperson Ellie Wallace in a statement. “With an eight percent unemployment rate, rising gas prices and a growing $16 trillion debt, Coloradans know they can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”

“Barack Obama’s extreme liberal policies make Bill Clinton look like Ronald Reagan, so it’s not surprising Team Obama is sending in a far more popular politician to the swing state of Colorado,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of the conservative Compass Colorado advocacy group. “However, everyone knows that Bill Clinton is holding his nose and defending Obama’s reckless spending record to help his wife’s likely campaign against President Romney in 2016.”

It was the first time Clinton has campaigned in the state since a 2010 appearance in northeast Denver for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who watched the Denver rally from the crowd and shouted “Vote, vote, vote!” at one point when Gov. John Hickenlooper pointed to him.

Before introducing Clinton, Hickenlooper urged Obama supporters to return their mail ballots or take part in early voting, which runs through Friday.

“It’s going to be close, it’s going to be very, very close, and it’s not hard to see how this election is going to come right onto our doorstep in Colorado,” he said. He later added, “I like our odds in Colorado, I like our odds in the country, but we’re going to need every vote.”

At press time, the Real Clear Politics average of publicly released polls taken over the past week pegged Colorado as dead even, with both candidates at 47.8 percent. The next closest state was Virginia and its 13 electoral votes, where Romney was up by 0.5 points. Among other battleground states, Romney was up in Florida and North Carolina, while Obama was ahead in Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa and Nevada. Neither candidate led any of the close states by more than a few points, however.

Several other prominent Denver Democrats trooped across the stage at Manual before Clinton appeared, including Denver Public Schools Board President Mary Seawell, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Before turning his remarks to politics, Hancock urged the crowd to donate to the Red Cross to help victims of Monday’s storm. “Let’s show those who are affected by Hurricane Sandy that Colorado loves them and we’re thinking about them,” he said to cheers. But he quickly began skewering Romney and making a case for Obama.

“Folks, don’t fall for the okey-doke,” Hancock said. “This nation is moving forward, and we will move forward with President Barack Obama as the next president.”

Continuing the theme, he added, “We’re not going to promise the heavens and the skies. President Barack Obama will be the first to tell you, we’re not where we want to be. But he will also be the first to tell you, thank God Almighty, we’re not where we started four years ago.”

DeGette lit into Romney for recasting his stand on numerous issues, including the future of Medicare, abortion rights and education spending.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve been joking a lot about ‘Romnesia.’” she said. “But when you think about it, what Mitt Romney’s trying to do is no joking matter. He’s changed his position on just about everything in the last month because he knows his views are out of step with the mainstream of America. Mitt Romney wants us to forget that, until just a few weeks ago, he was ‘severely conservative.’”

After Clinton finished, Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez said it was easy to describe what he’d just seen: “The professor,” he said. “It’s common sense. President Clinton broke it down very well — it’s working, we’re heading in the right direction, and Gov. Romney’s already trying to take credit for the fruits of that labor. Instead of giving President Obama the credit and a pat on the back, they’re not only trying to defeat him but take credit for his feats.”

Denver resident Avis Love — making her way to the exits because she said she was in a hurry to get in a shift at an Obama campaign phone bank — said that seeing Clinton in person for the first time had left her energized.
“This is about having a president for this whole country, not just for the select few,” she said. “We can’t be a superpower if we’re not educating our youth, if we can’t take care of those who’ve worked all of their lives.”

Holly El-Jammal recalled that the first time she’d seen Clinton was during his first presidential campaign, when he spoke at Denver’s Civic Center Park in 1992, and was thrilled to get the chance to shake his hand 20 years later.

“He’s the best president in my lifetime, and Obama, I’m hoping, has four more years to become the next best president in my lifetime,” she said with a smile.

Her daughter agreed.

“Even though I can’t vote, it’s really exciting that I get to do something like this,” said 14-year-old Madeleine El-Jammal, who added that she’s been helping out on campaigns since she was 10 and won’t be able to vote until 2016.

“She’ll be voting for Hillary,” her mother said with a grin.

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com