Clinton rallies base, slams 'fact-free' Republican midterm campaigning

CANTON, Ohio -- A fiery former President Bill Clinton rallied the Democratic faithful in Ohio on Saturday, where several of the party's incumbents face long odds Tuesday.

Clinton rallied with Gov. Ted Strickland and freshman Rep. John Boccieri in Canton, while House Minority Leader John Boehner headlined an event less than two miles away for Boccieri's Republican opponent, Jim Renacci.

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Clinton assailed Republican claims about Democratic economic policies as "fact-free," calling this year's midterm elections, "the most fact-free environment I've ever been in."

The former president launched an impassioned defense of the Democratic agenda in Washington over the past two years, highlighting healthcare, Wall Street reform and the stimulus, telling voters the country is on the road to recovery under Democratic control.

"We are coming back. You do not want to put us at risk," Clinton warned. "You gave [Republicans] 8 years to dig the hole. Now give us four years to prove we can take you where America needs to go."

Clinton also warned that should Republicans regain control of Congress, a newly-minted GOP majority would focus on launching a series of investigations, led by House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), aimed at taking down President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress.

"These folks spent 140 hours investigating my Christmas card list," Clinton told the crowd.

The former president, who spoke to an estimated crowd of 1,000 for nearly 45 minutes, ended by imploring Democrats to get their friends and neighbors to the polls Tuesday.

"This is your life, man," Clinton said. "This is the whole future of America."

Saturday's rally was the 120th campaign stop Clinton has made for Democrats this cycle, a number he told the crowd he never expected to reach. 

"I just planned to make a few stops for the people who worked hard for Hillary last time," Clinton said, adding that he was spurred on by how highly motivated Republicans appear in 2010.

Boccieri, who left in the middle of Clinton's remarks after receiving word that his wife was headed to the hospital for the birth of their child, defended his vote in favor of healthcare reform and the stimulus.


"Everything we have done in Washington has been not about me, not about the president, but about you," said Boccieri, who has been assailed by his Republican opponent as a pawn of President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The freshman Democrat is one of several House Dems who cast an earlier vote agaist the healthcare bill before voting for the final version. In announcing his switch in support of healthcare last March, Boccieri proclaimed, "I'm not worried about the election. I'm worried about doing what's right."

The Democrat, who ended up providing one of the crucial final votes to help Democrats secure passage of the measure, was under heavy pressure from both sides of the healthcare debate last spring given the conservative lean of his northeast Ohio district.

Renacci is running on repeal and Boccieri hit the Republican's position hard Saturday while praising the positives of the recently enacted law.

The Democrat recounted the story of 10-year-old Jay Hawkins from Wooster, Ohio, who is autistic and according to Boccieri now has health insurance for the first time thanks to the Democratic overhaul.

Boccieri said his oppponent would "look Jay Hawkins in the face and take away his insurance card."

Republicans appear poised for big gains in Ohio Tuesday, with former Rep. Rob Portman well ahead of Democrat Lee Fisher in the race to fill the seat of retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and former Rep. John Kasich leading Strickland in the race for governor.

Democrats are placing a heavy emphasis on this perennial battleground state in the final days before Tuesday's elections. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will rally with Strickland on Sunday in Cleveland and Clinton campaigned throughout the state Saturday.

Clinton's campaign swing through Ohio comes on the heels of a still simmering controversy over whether or not he encouraged Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) to drop out of Florida's three-way Senate race and get behind independent Gov. Charlie Crist.

Both Meek and Clinton have denied there was any deal that would have Meek dropping out of the race, but Crist has said that not only did he speak to a top aide to the former president about such a deal, he also spoke to "several people" in the White House about the possibility.


Meek announced Saturday that Clinton would appear at a rally for him Monday in Orlando.

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