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Obama, Clinton face off in race

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's Obama versus the Clintons again, except this time the venue is the Colorado Democratic Senate primary.

Former President Bill Clinton endorsed Democrat Andrew Romanoff on Tuesday, even though President Obama has thrown his support behind the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

"Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead," said Mr. Clinton in a fundraising letter. "I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November."

The endorsement could be viewed as payback: As Colorado Speaker of the House, Mr. Romanoff supported Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Mr. Clinton, who won Colorado in the 1992 presidential race, remains popular among Democrats, and his backing is expected to provide a needed boost to the Romanoff campaign, which trails the Bennet camp in both the polls and in fundraising.

"It's a very important endorsement. Clinton - Bill, not Hillary - is the only other Democrat you can think of who can equal Obama's clout," said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.

The endorsement was also expected to raise the race's national profile. "You're watching the two biggest names in the Democratic Party square off against each other in this one race," said Mr. Ciruli.

Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Waak admits she was surprised to learn of the dueling Democrats.

"It is a little unusual to have a sitting president and a former president from the same party doing opposite endorsements," said Ms. Waak. "[But] I don't know how much difference it makes to people. The candidates still have to get out there and do the work."

A Denver Post/9News poll released June 20 showed Mr. Bennet leading Mr. Romanoff by a margin of 53 percent to 36 percent. The state primary election is Aug. 10.

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