Former President Clinton Makes Pitch for Obama

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  August 23, 2012 at 9:56 AM EDT

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Former president Bill Clinton appears in a new ad supporting the Obama campaign. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

If you’re an incumbent president facing a stiff economic headwind, it’s only a matter of time before you turn to the most popular figure in your party for some serious help.

That’s exactly what President Obama is doing Thursday, as his re-election campaign debuts a new television spot starring former President Bill Clinton.

The 42nd president is shown speaking directly to the camera, outlining what he sees as a “clear choice” between Mr. Obama and his GOP rival.

Clinton says the choice for voters on Nov. 6 is “which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment,” then he broadly criticizes Republicans without explicitly naming Mitt Romney.

“The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That’s what got us in trouble in the first place,” Clinton says, adding, ” It only works if there is a strong middle class. That’s what happened when I was president. We need to keep going with his plan.”

Watch the spot here or below:

The Obama campaign said it will run in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

Team Romney’s Amanda Hennenberg responded:

All across the country, middle-class families are working harder and harder for less and less. 23 million Americans are struggling for employment, incomes have fallen, costs have risen, and the deficit has climbed past $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. Mitt Romney’s ‘sterling’ private sector experience and his Plan for a Stronger Middle Class offer a new direction. He will jumpstart economic growth, creating 12 million jobs and bringing hope to the middle class.


The presidential and vice presidential candidates have barnstormed a slew of battleground states this week in the lead up to the Republican National Convention that begins Monday in Tampa, Fla.

On Thursday, Quinnipiac University, the New York Times and CBS News offered the latest snapshot of three states that are up for grabs this fall: Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The polls showed the race tightening in Florida and Wisconsin, following Romney’s decision to select Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. In the Sunshine State, the Democratic ticket holds a 49 percent to 46 percent lead, while in Wisconsin the advantage is even slimmer at 49 percent to 47 percent. Both margins fall within the plus-or-minus 3 percent sampling error of the surveys.

Earlier this month both states favored the Democrats by 51 percent to 45 percent margins.

Mr. Obama and Vice President Biden maintained their 50 percent to 44 percent lead in the Buckeye State, a critical state for the Republicans to turn red if they are going to be successful in their pursuit of 270 electoral college votes on Nov. 6.

The Quinnipiac survey also examined how voters feel about Medicare and found overwhelming support in all three states for keeping the program as it is, rather than turning it into a premium support system as Republicans have proposed. More than six in 10 voters in Ohio and Florida expressed that view as did 59 percent of Wisconsinites.

Speaking of battlegrounds, on Wednesday’s NewsHour we had one-third of the 12 most closely watched states represented in a discussion with political reporters from Florida, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio.

“It appears that Ohio is pretty much up for grabs still,” Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio told Judy Woodruff.

Our reporters — Kasler, Jon Ralston of “Face to Face” in Nevada, Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times and O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa — agreed on one new development. Both campaigns have turned attention to revving up their bases rather than continuing to push for so-called “swing” voters, they said.

Ralston outlined what he sees as the “mythical undecided voter.”

This is all about now the base election. And that’s why I think Ryan had some impact here in a salutary way for the Republicans. He came here just a couple of days after he was picked, showing the importance of this state to that ticket and he really energized the base.

Similarly, President Obama, when he was in Las Vegas today, it was a pure partisan speech at a high school talking about how Mitt Romney wants to cut education and give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, but we need you, we need you to get out. It’s about a base election now, Judy. That’s really what’s going on.

Henderson noted that Romney made a direct appeal Wednesday during a speech in Iowa by asking attendees to find Obama voters who are now dissatisfied.

Watch the conversation here or below:

You can play around with state-by-state scenarios in our Vote 2012 Map Center and share your predictions with your friends.


The NewsHour announced a partnership with UStream to deliver an unprecedented All-Access Pass to both conventions.

On Wednesday, Christina chatted with Gwen Ifill and UStream Vice President Craig Mullaney about our plans for a 24-hour live-stream with six channels, and they discussed how technology is opening up the political process like never before.

Watch here or below.

Video streaming by Ustream


  • Are you an undecided voter in Virginia? Here’s your chance to weigh in on the convention and help us with our reporting. If you’re willing to talk to the NewsHour after each nomination speech, fill out this form.

  • What are your questions about the conventions? Tweet them to @NewsHour and use the hashtag #allaccess. Christina will answer them Friday at 1 p.m. ET.

  • Gwen Ifill looked at the new Congressional Budget Office report about the fiscal cliff, which is fast approaching. Watch her report here.

  • Romney will outline his plans for energy independence at an event Thursday in New Mexico.

  • Batten down the hatches, Republicans. We’re looking at a hurricane by Monday.

  • The mayor of Tampa is watching this storm too.

  • Are anarchists plotting against the convention? CNN has the story.

  • Karl Rove outlines his views on undecided voters in his Wall Street Journal column.

  • Politico notices there are some holes in the firewall between the Republican Party and Rove’s Crossroads.

  • Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris-Santoro asks if Romney can make headway with Hispanic voters.

  • Some networks aren’t taking Ann Romney’s convention speech.

  • Discover Tampa with “Conventional Wisdom” from the Tampa Bay Times.

  • The Hill rounds up Democratic efforts to crash the GOP’s party in Tampa.

  • The Deseret News reports that Romney has asked a longtime Mormon colleague to give the invocation on the final day of the convention.

  • The union group Workers Voice will begin its fall field operation earlier than the traditional start of Labor Day, the group will announce Thursday. The plans to prebut the Republican National Convention include canvassing 23 states (in partnership with MoveOn) with a goal of knocking on 640,000 doors. It also will mail a “convention guide” attacking Ryan’s Medicare plan to 240,000 seniors. You can see that here.

  • The Root’s Keli Goff looks at “Black Hollywood” and asks whether celebrity endorsements matter.

  • Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider wants Ryan to stop using the rock anthem “We’re Not Going to Take It” at his campaign rallies.



  • Crossroads GPS launched a $4.2 million television campaign targeting Democratic Senate candidates in Florida, Montana, New Mexico and Ohio. You can watch the Montana spot here.

  • Sex columnist Dan Savage and National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown finally had their over-dinner debate of gay marriage. Watch the full video.

  • Did you know that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’ mother was born in Sudan?

  • The Sunlight Foundation keeps it up with another new tool exploring political ads.

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller writes from Plantation, Fla., about Democrats using the Akin dustup to push for cash. The paper also explores how Senate leadership won’t make things easy for Akin should he win in November.

  • There’s a petition urging first lady Michelle Obama and Ann Romney to talk about youth issues during the campaign. Details about #speak4kids are here.

  • Roll Call shifted the North Dakota Senate race to “Tossup” after a good month for Democratic nominee Heidi Heitkamp.

  • Wisconsin GOP Senate nominee Tommy Thompson seems to be getting a boost from Ryan’s candidacy, opening up a 50 percent to 41 percent lead on Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the latest Marquette Law School poll. A new automated survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling gives Thompson a five point advantage, 49 percent to 44 percent.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Paul Ryan holds a roundtable in Fayetteville, N.C., at 12 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney lays out his plan for energy independence in Hobbs, N.M., at 12:55 p.m.

  • First lady Michelle Obama attends a campaign event in Milwaukee at 2:55 p.m.

  • President Obama and Vice President Biden have no public events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.