Bill Clinton acted as salesman-in-chief for Barack Obama Sunday, both touting the president’s policies as having saved the country from a Depression, while writing off Mitt Romney’s proposals as the failed “trick-down” economics of the past.
The former president said Obama’s policies of investing in public-private partnerships in research, and education, and student loans that have helped fuel the rapid growth of the Research Triangle.
“You are going to vote your hopes rather than your fears North Carolina,” Clinton told a crowd in Raleigh’s Pullen Park, that park officials estimated at 4,000.
“Think about the Research Triangle,” Clinton said. “ Think about what works in Raleigh. Think about what works in Charlotte. Think about how you can bring that to every nook and cranny of this state.’’
Clinton’s visit was part of a last-minute push by the Obama campaign in North Carolina, with Jill Biden appearing in Huntersville and Asheville on Friday and Michelle Obama scheduled to campaign in Charlotte on Monday. The first lady will be accompanied by singer Mariah Carey.
While Obama narrowly carried the state four years ago, most national political analysts have predicted that it is likely to go to Romney this time, in part because North Carolina has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates. But several polls show the race to be very close.
The Republicans were apparently not countering with any big name surrogates of their own in the final days.
“If President Obama thought he could win North Carolina, he would be visiting the state himself,” said Rachel Adams, the Republican National Committee’ North Carolina spokeswoman. “We have already cut into the Democrats 2008 early vote margin by more than nine times the president’s slim 14,000-vote margin of victory. We have gained 132,395 votes through through 17 days of early voting and are confident we will maintain this momentum on election day.’’
As dusk descended on the park in central Raleigh, Clinton was the polished political performer. At times he ridiculed Romney saying he had “twisted” himself on so many positions he could perform in cirque du soleil. At other times, he quoted former President George W. Bush as saying a president should be “a decider-in-chief,” and then would mimic an indecisive Romney on several issues.
He accused Romney of suffering from “the raging virus called Romnesia.” He said Romney promised 12 million jobs over the next four if he got elected, but “forgot” that just days before he made the promise, Moody’s Analytics, an independent business forecaster, had said the U.S economy would produce 12 million jobs in the next four years based on the changes already made.
Clinton said Romney’s whole campaign was based on vague promises.
“See me after the election about the budget,” Clinton said paraphrasing Romney. “See me after the election about how we are going to pay for these tax cuts. Don’t bother me with the details. Throw them (the Obama administration) out. Put me in, so I can get credit for what he did. That is the heart and soul of their campaign. And they are preying on the fears and anxieties and the worries of ordinary people instead of uplifting our hope.”
Because of the Tea Party influence on the Republican Party, Clinton said it was far more likely that Obama rather than Romney would be able to strike the compromises needed in Washington.
“If you want cooperation over conflict,” Clinton said, “if you want people to walk in the same door and sit down at the same table and behave like grownups, you have to re-elect President Obama.”
Clinton was introduced by former four term-Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, who said that Obama would be a far better advocate for education. Hunt said Obama’s stimulus package had saved 20,000 teacher jobs in the state, expanded preschool programs, increased investments in community colleges and made education more affordable for thousands of North Carolina students by doubling Pell Grants.
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic nominee for governor, urged Democrats to bring friends to the polls.
“This is an important election because we are talking about two fundamentally different visions,” Dalton said. “On the one hand there is the Republican-Romney hand to send us back to the failed policies of the past. Policies that got us into this crisis in the first place. We have tried them and they didn’t work then and they won’t work now.
“On the other hand there is President Obama’s plan to grow the middle class from the middle out,” Dalton said.
US Sen. Kay Hagan and state Sen. Dan Blue, who co-chaired Clinton’s two presidential campaigns in the state also spoke. Gov. Bev Perdue attended the event but did not speak.