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Clinton to the rescue: Ex-president lends star power to Dem candidates


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• was in Nevada for a rally for Obama and Democratic Senate candidate Shelley Berkley.

• was at Arizona State University rally with Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona.

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• then came stops in Iowa and Indiana for more rallies with Senate and congressional candidates as well as fundraising events.

He’s expected to keep up the pace until Election Day, Nov. 6.

All told, Clinton has appeared at no fewer than 32 fundraisers and 15 rallies for Obama. One big-ticket reception at a private New York City residence with Clinton last June drew 47 people who paid $40,000 apiece.

On Friday, he joined Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for a Detroit-area fundraiser that her campaign said brought in about $350,000 for Michigan Democrats.

During a recent Las Vegas rally for Obama and other Democratic candidates, Clinton showcased his ability to poke fun at foes without demonizing them. He mocked Romney’s move to the political center in the opening presidential debate.

"I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did," Clinton told the crowd. "I thought, ‘Wow, here’s old moderate Mitt. Where ya been, boy?’"

Clinton is also building favor with local Democrats, many of whom are longtime allies.

"He generates a huge amount of media attention when he’s visiting these states," said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire GOP state party chairman.


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Cullen said Clinton’s visit earlier this year to New Hampshire to endorse Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Maggie Hassan, a Clinton ally in 2008, provided a stamp of party establishment approval that helped Hassan win her competitive primary.

Yet Clinton’s prominent campaign role could pose some potential downsides for Democrats. Some Democrats fret Clinton could overshadow Obama. A Pew Research Center poll last month showed 29 percent of those surveyed said Clinton’s convention speech was the highlight of the party gathering, while just 16 percent called Obama’s speech the highlight.

But there’s no hiding the Clinton magic during an election year.

In Indianapolis on Friday, the former president noted that he had stayed the night before in Washington with Hillary, celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary. He recalled that she told him she wished she could come with him to campaign this year.

One of the event organizers had apologized to the former president for the size of the crowd, saying "that’s as good as we can do for a crowd here except for a basketball game."

Clinton, famously fond of a crowd of any size, grinned.

"I’ll take that," he said.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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