HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton credited Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday with making unpopular decisions needed to fix Connecticut’s fiscal problems, urging supporters to send a message to America that they believe in leadership.
Speaking to 700 supporters at a rally in a Hartford school gymnasium, Clinton acknowledged that Malloy “had a strategy that was designed to make everybody mad.” It was a reference to Malloy’s call to raise taxes, cut spending and negotiate state employee concessions to address a multibillion-dollar deficit when he took office in 2011.
“He told you the truth: If we’re going to solve this, we’re going to solve it together,” Clinton said, adding how “you can’t just snap your fingers and make everything all right.”
Malloy is in a tight rematch with Republican businessman Tom Foley, who repeatedly has criticized Malloy’s approach, especially his decision to increase taxes by $1.8 billion. Clinton said he has been watching Connecticut’s election from afar and believes Foley’s election strategy is to “rub on those raw feelings” and rile voters.
The rally at the Learning Corridor, an educational complex adjacent to Trinity College, marked the second visit the former president has made on Malloy’s behalf in this election. President Barack Obama is scheduled to headline a rally for Malloy on Wednesday in Bridgeport.
Meanwhile, some well-known Republicans are coming to Connecticut to help Foley, who is tied with Malloy, according to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, has visited three times and is expected to return. A trip originally planned for Tuesday is being rescheduled. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is campaigning for Foley on Friday.
Malloy and his fellow Democrats continue to try to make the case that things have improved in Connecticut since Malloy took office, pointing to private-sector job growth, a successful roll-out of the Affordable Care Act and a reduction in homicides. Last week’s Quinnipiac Poll, however, showed that voters still aren’t very enthusiastic about either Malloy or Foley.
“I understand that there can be a difference of opinion of some of the things that I’ve done,” Malloy told the crowd. “Every time I made a decision, every time I tried to lead, I did what I truly believed was the right thing to do, to move this state forward.”
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