Bill Clinton says Democrats must fight anger, apathy and amnesia to win voters before November

By Andrew Demillo, AP
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Clinton: Dems battling anger, apathy and amnesia

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday it would be a mistake for voters to give in to “anger, apathy and amnesia” and deprive Arkansas of the Senate Agriculture chairmanship by defeating Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Clinton returned to his home state to rally support for Lincoln as she fights to save her Senate career and to help raise money for two Democratic congressional hopefuls. Most polls show Lincoln badly trailing her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, though she has more money for the race.

Clinton told a roomful of supporters at a downtown Little Rock event that the state would miss out if it lost Lincoln, who marks one year chairing the Senate Agriculture Committee this week.

“It would be a terrible mistake to squander something I have personally waited all my life to see, somebody who gets Arkansas its fair share and rural America its fair share,” said the former Arkansas governor, who was headlining an event celebrating the anniversary.

Clinton accused Boozman of wanting to privatize Social Security and criticized the Republican congressman’s past support of a national sales tax to replace the income tax. Boozman previously has supported allowing younger workers to invest their Social Security taxes in private accounts.

Clinton said voters are justifiably angry about the economy but that the stimulus package has helped in preventing the downturn from becoming worse.

“We did quit digging. If you don’t re-elect her, when her opponent is sworn in to the United States Senate, he’ll have one hand on the Bible and will be holding a shovel in the other hand,” Clinton said.

Boozman campaign spokesman Patrick Creamer took issue with Clinton’s remarks.

“With all due respect to President Clinton, I doubt the over 100,000 Arkansans who are out of work would agree with his assessment,” Creamer said in a written statement. “The failed stimulus program that Senator Lincoln wholeheartedly supported dug a hole so deep that they cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Lincoln acknowledged the tough battle she faces, telling supporters it’s “very popular” for both sides to be angry with her. Lincoln survived a bruising fight for the Democratic nomination against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter earlier this year.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton said it’s not too late for Lincoln and other Democrats.

“I think if she can make it about the issues — what do we need to do and who’s most likely to do it — as opposed to anger, apathy and amnesia, I think she still can win this race,” Clinton said after hosting a fundraiser for Democrat Joyce Elliott, who’s seeking a central Arkansas congressional seat.

Clinton also headlined a fundraiser for Democrat Chad Causey, who’s running for an east Arkansas congressional seat.

Elliott and Causey are running for seats left open in districts that Republicans say they have the best shot at winning in years.

Clinton took a swipe at Elliott’s Republican opponent, Tim Griffin, who worked in former President George W. Bush’s White House and has been criticized by Democrats for his ties to the controversy surrounding the firings of federal prosecutors.

Griffin was named interim U.S. attorney for eastern Arkansas after Bud Cummins left the post. Cummins later said he was forced out by the U.S. Department of Justice, and his firing was one of several that prompted a congressional inquiry.

“(Elliott’s) the only one running who’s got a record of really doing things for people, with none of the kind of ethical problems and political abuse of power charges and all those other things that have come out against her opponent,” Clinton said. “The main thing is he wants to join that group of people that says they will go back and do the things that got us in trouble in the first place.”

Griffin’s campaign dismissed Clinton’s remarks. Spokesman Ryan James said Arkansas residents might feel differently if Elliott were running for Congress to help Clinton, “but she would be going to help the Obama administration, and that’s why Arkansans are rejecting her campaign.”

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