WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton told Democratic supporters Monday that their party leaders deserve more time to turn the nation's economy around because the Republican leadership before them left such a huge hole.
Mr. Clinton acknowledged the economic struggles of millions of Americans as he spoke at a campaign event in suburban Philadelphia for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak, a former Navy vice admiral who served as a military adviser to Mr. Clinton when he was president.
Mr. Sestak is in a tight race with Republican candidate Pat Toomey at a time when many believe Democrats are vulnerable nationwide because of voter anger over the economic slumber. The Philadelphia suburbs are often a key swing district in both state and national elections.
Before unloading their ire on Democrats, Mr. Clinton said, voters should pin the blame on Republicans in power for the eight years between the time he left office and when President Obama was inaugurated.
"We all know we're in terrible economic trouble," Mr. Clinton told about 150 supporters at a Jewish community center in the wealthy suburb of Wynnewood. "It is my opinion that the 20 months the president and Congress have had to dig out of the hole was not enough."
The former president said Mr. Obama's economic stimulus package has created 1.5 million jobs and saved 2 million more.
In response to Mr. Clinton's visit, Mr. Toomey's campaign released a statement calling him a congressional liberal.
"Joe Sestak likes to bring in politicians from other states to endorse him because he wants to run away from the fact that his voting record, while 100 percent in line with Nancy Pelosi, is vastly more liberal than most Pennsylvanians, including more liberal than many of his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats in Congress," the statement said.
Republicans, Mr. Clinton said, want to repeal the financial stabilization bill and health care legislation and private Social Security and Medicare.
Democrats, he said, are voters' best bet for doing things that need to be done to get the economy going — growing jobs, balancing the budget and bringing back manufacturing. He also accused Republicans of using scare tactics to try scaring voters away from Democrats, citing angry conservative commentators on channels such as Fox News.
"You practically need Prozac to get a good night's sleep," he said.
Mr. Clinton also appeared at a rally on a closed street in west Philadelphia for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, addressing hundreds of supporters hours before he was to present the Liberty Medal to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.