Former President Clinton Takes Shots at Indiana Republicans
Former President Clinton addresses the crowd at North Central H.S. (wibc.com photo by Eric Berman)
Former President Bill Clinton has made a campaign stop in Indy to rally Democrats behind their candidates for senator and governor.
Clinton joined Joe Donnelly and John Gregg onstage in the North Central High School gymnasium, along with former senator and governor Evan Bayh. Clinton took a shot or two at GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but he focused most of his attention on Republicans' Indiana ticket of Richard Mourdock and Mike Pence.
Clinton crystallized Democrats' strategy of linking Mourdock and Pence to blast both as right-wing partisans, then wooing supporters of defeated Republican Senator Richard Lugar to extend their discontent with Mourdock to Pence. The ex-president praised Lugar as a "bona fide conservative" who made the country safer, while tearing into Mourdock and Pence for opposing the GM and Chrysler bailouts, noting Pence voted against it while Mourdock challenged the Chrysler bailout in court.
"You've got to give them credit; they didn't just speak out against it. I mean, they took a real stand," Clinton said, to roars from a Democratic crowd of more than three-thousand. "They said, 'Let's put those suckers out of work as quick as we can.'"
Clinton mocked Pence for not passing a bill in 12 years in Congress, saying the governorship would be a "cold shower" for him. But he trained most of his fire on Mourdock, expressing disbelief that Hoosiers would oust Lugar for daring to work with a president of the opposite party. He borrowed Donnelly's "my way or the highway" characterization of the state treasurer, and declared that "pushing those who disagree with you out of the boat" simply doesn't work.
And Clinton argued many of the most critical problems facing the country should transcend party labels, from national security to student loans.
Clinton notes he visited Indiana 39 times in 2008, campaigning on behalf of his wife Hillary's unsuccessful presidential bid. Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama in the Indiana primary, but the razor-thin margin was viewed as the end of her hopes of denying Obama the nomination.
Clinton says he called Bayh after Lugar's primary defeat and suggested Democrats had an opportunity for their first Indiana Senate victory since Bayh won a second term in 2004. Donnelly says Clinton called soon afterward to offer to visit Indiana on his behalf.
"It never hurts to have Bill Clinton saying good things about you," Donnelly says.
Clinton headed from Indianapolis to Sioux City, Iowa, for a similar rally on behalf of Democratic congressional candidate Christine Vilsack.