- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Bill Clinton brought his national campaign swing for Democratic candidates to North Carolina on Friday, telling a crowd of Sen. Kay Hagan’s supporters her re-election is a step toward all Americans benefiting from the economic recovery, not just the privileged few.

At a Raleigh high school for a Hagan get-out-the-vote rally on the eve of Saturday’s close of early voting, Clinton also said voting for Republican challenger Thom Tillis would extend division and promote failed “trickle-down” economics.

“Kay Hagan wants to work together and grow together,” he said to a crowd of more than 1,000 energized by speeches from both Clinton and Hagan. “Her opponent does not want to grow together. He wants to go back to trickle-down with a vengeance and he wants to do it with the politics that divide us instead of unite us.”

Clinton and other speakers urged Hagan’s supporters to work hard for the incumbent Democrat, who is locked in a close race with Tillis. It’s the nation’s most expensive Senate race, with candidates and outside groups spending more than $107 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

Clinton made reference to the barrage of advertising, suggesting that Tillis’ allies are spending tens of millions of dollars supporting the state House speaker because they want to reap more of the rewards of the economic prosperity to come.

“Our state is not for sale,” Hagan and her supporters repeated loudly together inside the Broughton High School gym. More money has been spent in the campaign by outside groups opposing Tillis and supporting Hagan, at $42 million, than for Tillis and against Hagan, at $34 million, foundation data show.

Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, have been traveling the nation helping Democratic U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates. The former first lady and potential 2016 presidential nominee spoke last Saturday in Charlotte for Hagan, and the ex-president held a fundraiser for Hagan in September in Chapel Hill.

Earlier Friday, Bill Clinton spoke in Atlanta for Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and began appearing in a new campaign ad for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke in Wisconsin. He planned to visit Iowa on Saturday for Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

He followed Hagan in poking at Tillis’ record, which they say includes cutting education spending, lowering taxes to benefit the highest wage earners, failing to expand Medicaid and throwing up obstacles to vote.

Tillis wants to link Hagan to President Barack Obama, but “he doesn’t want to talk about the differences they have on the issues because he knows you would agree with her,” the ex-president said.

In a statement critiquing Bill Clinton’s visit, Tillis spokeswoman Meghan Burris asked why Obama and Hagan haven’t campaigned in person together “despite the fact she has rubber-stamped his partisan agenda 99 percent of the time.”

Other rally speakers included former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt and U.S. Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield. Hunt, now 77 and still the state’s most popular Democrat, urged Hagan supporters to “work your head off” through Tuesday. He suggested they follow the example of his wife, Carolyn, who he says has been volunteering daily for Democrats at the Wilson early voting site.

“Folks, this is going to be a very tight election,” said Hunt, whom Hagan calls a mentor.

Tillis scheduled rallies Friday at GOP offices in North Carolina’s Triad and mountains before returning to Cornelius, near his home.

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