The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 3, 2012

Obama banks on Bill Clinton to clinch close states

— PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney has millionaire backers, a huge staff and years of campaign experience, which may be enough to win the White House. President Barack Obama has one asset Romney can't match, however: Bill Clinton.

The former president is sprinting through battleground states, delivering more speeches than Obama himself and, arguably, carrying much of the president's re-election hopes on his 66-year-old shoulders.

There's nothing secret about this campaign weapon. If it's a competitive state, Clinton is there — and there and there — picking apart Romney's proposals in the folksy yet detailed style he unleashed at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. Many party activists left there wondering why Obama can't make his own case as compellingly.

Friday was typical for Clinton. He made five stops in Florida, stretching from Palm Beach in the southeast to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast to Tallahassee in the panhandle.

Romney had hoped to lock down the mega-swing state long ago. But he will return Monday because of its uncertainty.

Clinton, his raspy voice hoarser than usual, mixed nostalgia with lawyerly dissections when criticizing Romney's tax-cut plans in Palm Bay, the day's second stop, south of Cape Canaveral.

"I don't understand how people like me could sleep at night taking another tax cut, and taking it away from you," he said to cheers from several hundred people, who clearly did not resent his post-presidential wealth.

After shucking his suit jacket and loosening his orange tie under a brilliant midday sun, Clinton rattled off statistics about recent slowdowns in the growth of health care costs, and benefits of Obama's health law. "That is what Mr. Romney wants to repeal," he said.

"Bring it home, Bill" a woman shouted.

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