With polls showing the presidential race tightening in Minnesota, the Obama campaign sent its star surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, to Minneapolis Tuesday, Oct. 30, to tell supporters the president is the better candidate to restore the American economy.
Speaking to a crowd of about 1,800 packed into the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center, Clinton gave a staunch defense of President Obama's first term and asserted the president is most likely to restore middle class prosperity and maintain the country's economic leadership in the world.
The three big questions in the election are whether people are better off now than when Obama started, do children have a brighter future and are things coming together
for the nation. The answers, he said, are a resounding "yes."
"The rest of it is all background noise," he said.
Tuesday's rally came as Obama suspended campaigning to monitor superstorm Sandy and the other candidates toned down their rhetoric.
Clinton's appearance was the first one in Minnesota by a big-name campaigner since the Democratic and Republican national conventions last summer. It indicates the state, once considered safe for Obama, is becoming more competitive in the final days of the campaign.
"President Obama is playing defense in traditionally Democratic states like Minnesota and Pennsylvania because Americans know that if he is reelected our national debt will climb to $20 trillion, Medicare will be cut by $716
billion, and millions of middle-class families will be hit with tax increases," Romney spokesman Michael Levoff said in an email. "We can't afford four more years like the last four years.'
In a fundraising letter, the Minnesota Republican Party said Clinton's visit "means Democrats are scared and Romney can win in Minnesota."
After leading by double digits in most polls in the state this summer and early fall, Obama now tops Romney by 5.3 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics.com average of Minnesota surveys since Oct. 15.
Clinton reminded the U crowd that Obama inherited an economic crisis when he took office. He said the president started the economy on a long road back from a deep recession, noting unemployment has dropped sharply in the past year while housing starts and auto sales are up.
He defended the president's health care law, saying he wants to make the rest of the country "look more like Minnesota.
"Thanks to Minnesota, all the insurance companies have to spend 80 to 85 percent of their profits on health care," he said, citing a provision tacked onto the Obamacare bill by Minnesota Sen. Al Franken.
After his Minneapolis speech, Clinton headlined another rally at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. The former president also was scheduled to campaign for the Democratic ticket in Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
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