- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Hillary Clinton on Friday urged Rhode Islanders to “dig deep” and do everything they can to elect Democrat Gina Raimondo the next governor, saying the treasurer has tackled tough issues and made difficult choices.

The former first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential candidate stumped for Raimondo at Rhode Island College before a crowd of several hundred.

The event was branded around “rebuilding the middle class,” which Clinton said has been eroded. She said Raimondo is the candidate who will help workers, including by supporting a minimum wage hike and equal pay for women. She said the treasurer’s jobs plan, which envisions a resurgence of manufacturing and investments in workforce training and infrastructure, will help the state’s economy rebound.

Clinton did not refer directly to Raimondo’s landmark 2011 overhaul of the pension system, which won her the ire of public-sector unions, some of which are not backing her candidacy. But the former first lady did give Raimondo’s work a nod.

“She made some of the hardest choices any public official in America made,” she said.

Earlier this month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, swung through Rhode Island to campaign for Republican nominee Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney held a fundraiser in Providence for him.

Raimondo remains the front-runner less than two weeks to go before Election Day.

On Friday, Clinton said she was told some time ago by those in Rhode Island political circles to keep an eye on Raimondo.

“And so I have been - and boy, do I like what I see,” she said, calling the treasurer “one of the best choices in the entire country.”

The treasurer, who would be Rhode Island’s first woman governor, called Clinton a trailblazer and personal inspiration and ticked off all the roles she has held.

“She’s done it all - although not quite everything,” Raimondo said with a smile, drawing huge cheers the crowd.

Clinton campaigned earlier in the day for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley in Massachusetts and was heading to Maine to campaign for Democrat Mike Michaud in the governor’s race there.

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