New York - Former President Bill Clinton warned on Monday that a Mitt Romney presidency would be “calamitous” for America and the world, going further than even President Barack Obama in depicting the consequences of a return to Republican rule of the White House.
With Obama standing to one side, Clinton slammed the Republican presidential candidate by name.
Clinton said Obama has earned a second term because of his steering of the economy through a “miserable situation” and “the alternative would be, in my opinion, calamitous for our country and the world.”
Clinton and Obama were focusing their message on Monday on economic opportunity. Polls show that economic trends are likely to determine the election, a development that could help Romney if the economy sags significantly. Obama and Romney were tied at 46 percent in Gallup polling last week of national election preferences.
Clinton's take came as he helped raise at least $3.6 million for Obama at three New York fundraisers. The two have patched over a personal rift from the 2008 campaign when Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a bitter Democratic primary. But Clinton caused some heartburn in Obama's campaign last week by remarking that Romney had a “sterling” business record - an assertion that undercut Democrats' criticism of Romney's decisions at the private equity firm Bain Capital.
For his part, Obama said the economy had been difficult for so many voters that some could reach the point that “you're willing to try just about anything, even if you've seen it before.”
Clinton also said at the fundraiser that Republicans and Romney have adopted Europe's economic policies. “Who would have ever thought that the Republicans who made a living for decades deriding Old Europe would embrace their economic policies,” he said.
Obama told donors that he was seeking re-election against a changed Republican Party. “They have run from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism when it comes to the marketplace, a belief that all regulations are bad, that government has no role to play,” he said.
Clinton's larger point in the interview last week was that Obama is the better choice to steer the economy, and the White House denied that Clinton “made news.” Still, the televised remark gave Republicans campaign gold just as the government released a disappointing report saying the United States created far fewer new jobs in May than expected - a big political blow for Obama.
Clinton's ability to deliver campaign dollars and his record as a sound campaign strategist make him an asset to the Obama campaign that apparently outweighs any drawbacks.
Obama campaign bundler and billionaire investor Marc Lasry held an exclusive reception Monday night, followed by a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where rocker Jon Bon Jovi closed a dinner concert with the upbeat Beatles anthem “Here Comes the Sun.”
Taking the stage a short while later, Clinton harkened back to the better economic days of his presidency.
“Remember me? I'm the guy who gave you four surplus budgets out of the eight I sent” to Congress, he said to applause.
The evening was to conclude with an event dubbed “Barack on Broadway” at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Obama will return to Manhattan next week for a fundraiser at the home of “Sex and the City” actress Sarah Jessica Parker. - Sapa-AP