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Bill Clinton Stumps for Struggling Democrats in Arkansas

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BATESVILLE, Ark. – President Bill Clinton descended on this small college town Wednesday with a mission: To stop the Republican wave threatening his state.

An hour and half away from Little Rock in north-central Arkansas, Batesville sits on the edge of the 1st Congressional District, which has been Democratic since the Reconstruction Era. This district is the bluest of the Blue Dog districts, and like most of Arkansas, it withstood the GOP’s national gains over the last 30 years.

But today, incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is in the political fight of her life against Republican John Boozman.
And here in the 1st CD, Chad Causey, the Democrat hoping to replace retiring Rep. Marion Berry, is lagging 12 points behind Republican Rick Crawford.

On Wednesday, with Causey at his side and Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” blaring in the background, Clinton walked onto the community college auditorium stage and did his best to rally the crowd of 300.

“This is serious with me,” he said about this year’s midterm elections. “When it started out, I didn’t intend to do much in this election.”
Clinton’s been campaigning ferociously for Democrats — he told the crowd it was his 74th stop this season — in part to thank them for supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race. He said that Hillary Clinton cannot campaign because of her duties as secretary of State. “There’s no one but me to honor the help they gave her,” he said.

Clinton framed his message around football, telling those in the crowd that they need to look at politics like a football game. He said football fans know every stat when it comes to their favorite teams, and voters should have that same focus.

“When we care about something, we pay attention to the facts,” he said. “Give me 15 to 20 minutes like this is a football game.”

 

The former president delved into Economics 101, talking about the country’s debt and the need for banks to loan more money. He talked about the need for clean energy jobs – emphasizing the influx of wind turbine plants in Arkansas – and a balanced budget like the one in Arkansas. State law requires the governor and legislature in the state to balance its state budget yearly.

 

Clinton highlighted Causey’s work on two farm bills as Berry’s chief of staff. The 1st CD relies on agriculture as the main component of its economy.

Clinton sprinkled his speech with references to Lincoln, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and planned to attend a campaign rally for her in an airplane hangar in Jonesboro on Wednesday night. Lincoln represented the 1st CD for two terms during Clinton’s presidency.

The 1st CD remains a critical bulwark for Arkansas Democrats, said Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

“I do see it as a firewall for the Democrats’ hopes of maintaining the U.S. House,” said Barth. “If they lose a district like that, any hopes of Nancy Pelosi being re-elected speaker are gone. I’m not as sure that if the 1st goes Republican, that it’s gone forever for the party. That said, a loss there (along with loses in the 2nd Congressional District and U.S. Senate race) would be psychologically devastating to the Arkansas Democratic Party. And, we know that political dynamics are driven to a great degree by psychology.”

No one knows that better than Clinton, who kept the crowd spellbound as he spoke. He received loud applause numerous times throughout his speech. Clinton lashed out at the Bush administration and the eight years that the Republican Congress borrowed money from China to pay for two wars and a senior drug package.

“If ever there was an example of not watching the game film, this is it,” he said, adding that Republicans have forgotten the deficit they created. “The game film shows the facts.”

Clinton then became more passionate as he reeled off one economic fact after another. “I am the most fiscally responsible president you’ve had in your lifetime,” he said to explosive applause.

He added that it is too early – 21 months – to elect a new team.

“They [the Republicans] are playing you folks — don’t be played,” Clinton said.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm

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