Clinton and David Axelrod bump heads in New Jersey's member match-up

New Jersey voters will hear robocalls from President Clinton backing Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on Wednesday — the same day President Obama's top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, will be in town stumping for Pascrell's opponent.

In a recorded message, the former president calls Pascrell his friend and says he knows him well, according to a recording of the call obtained by The Hill. The call is going out to households in the newly-redrawn House district starting Tuesday.

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"When I was president, Bill helped me make the economy work for everybody," Clinton says. "And if you vote for him on Tuesday, June 5, he'll help us do it again."

Pascrell faces fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman (N.J.) in a primary resulting from redistricting, which merged Pascrell's and Rothman's districts and drew Rothman's home into the district of a neighboring Republican.

House Democrats have mostly stayed neutral in the race, but Clinton picked sides in early April and endorsed Pascrell, who had supported then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over Obama in the 2008 presidential primary.

Rothman endorsed Obama in 2008 — the only New Jersey congressman to support the former Illinois senator in the primary.

Although the president has personally steered clear of the race, Axelrod gave his blessing to Rothman last week. The Obama adviser and campaign surrogate will formally endorse Rothman on Wednesday at a campaign event in Wood-Ridge, N.J.

It's unclear whether the proxy battle between Obama and Clinton — who is supporting the president's reelection and raising money on his behalf — will have a strong effect on the race, but the contest is expected to be extremely tight.

An internal poll for Pascrell's campaign in mid-May showed less than half a percentage point separating the two Democrats and longtime friends. Both men took between 43 and 44 percent of the vote in the survey conducted by Democratic pollster Garin-Hart-Young and obtained by The Hill.

New Jersey lost one House seat after the 2010 U.S. Census due to slow population growth, leading map-makers to eliminate a district in northern New Jersey, just west of New York City. The redrawn district leans heavily Democratic, and the winner of the primary, which is on June 5, is expected to win reelection in November.

Listen to Clinton's robocall:

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