Bill Clinton acknowledges voter anger in NV speech
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Former President Bill Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that voter anger about the economy is reflected in polls across the country showing Democrats struggling against Republican challengers.
But Clinton reminded a crowd of more than 1,200 at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid that Republicans expanded both the federal government and the deficit under Republican former President George W. Bush.
“People should hold on to their anger but it shouldn’t cloud their judgment,” Clinton said.
The Democratic former president met with more than 60 donors at a $5,000-per-person reception before the morning rally for Reid in the House of Blues concert hall at the Mandalay Bay resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Clinton’s appearance for the son of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid comes amid a nationwide tour aimed at boosting vulnerable Democrats facing popular Republican candidates.
A recent statewide poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval with a 52 percent to 36 percent lead over Rory Reid.
Clinton also visited Las Vegas in June to help campaign for Harry Reid, who faces a tough challenge from Republican tea party favorite Sharron Angle in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment, and record foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.
Supporters who chanted “Rory” and waved campaign signs as they waited for Clinton in Las Vegas laughed when Clinton mistakenly referred to Nebraska. Clinton attributed the gaffe to a late flight on Tuesday.
Reid, 47, was state Democratic party chairman and led Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Nevada.
Sandoval, 47, a former state attorney general, resigned a lifetime appointment as federal judge to run for governor. He beat first-term Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in the June primary.
State Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox issued a statement Wednesday dismissing any effect that Clinton’s return visit to Nevada might have on the race.
“No matter how much southern charm the former president brings to Nevada it won’t make a difference,” Wilcox said.
Clinton has become the Democratic Party’s surrogate-in-chief as candidates near the critical midterm elections. In recent days, Clinton has also rallied in his home state of Arkansas for embattled Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, pitched for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak in suburban Philadelphia and raised cash for Democratic Senate candidate Mike Thurmond in Atlanta.
At the Reid rally, Clinton said many voters feel “totally disempowered and shafted.” Republicans, meanwhile, are portraying Democrats as big spenders who have not grown the economy.
“Right now a lot of people seem to be buying it,” he said.
To win, Reid and other Democrats need to recast the election as a decision about who has the best solutions.
“The question when you are angry is, can you calm down enough to make constructive use of your anger?” he said.
Reid said Clinton’s endorsement would make a difference in his underdog race.
“He is an incredible spokesman to have,” Reid said.