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Bill Clinton says Mitt Romney qualified to run, defends Bain work

Former President Clinton on Thursday night became the latest surrogate for President Obama to stray from campaign talking points, saying GOP nominee Mitt Romney's business experience "crosses the qualification threshold."

In an interview on the Piers Morgan show on CNN, Clinton said the Obama campaign shouldn't spend its energy criticizing Romney's work at Bain Capital, an argument that has taken center stage in the debate over which candidate can better lead the U.S. economy. 

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"I don't think we ought to get into the position where we say, 'This is bad work. This is good work,' " Clinton told guest host Harvey Weinstein, a staunch Obama supporter who has helped raise millions of dollars for the president's reelection campaign. 

"There's no question that in terms of getting up and going to the office and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold," he said.

Earlier this month, Obama’s team launched an aggressive campaign against Romney’s tenure as the head of investment firm Bain Capital, which the GOP contender touts as preparing him to manage the nation’s economy.

In a series of ads, the campaign ripped Romney for shuttering businesses including a steel mill and paper plant, claiming he prioritized maximizing investor profit over protecting jobs, laying off hundreds of people in the process. 

Clinton's comments come on the heels of remarks by other Obama surrogates, who have said that the president's team shouldn't focus on Bain. Two weeks ago Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said the campaign's attacks on Bain were "nauseating." Former Obama auto czar Steve Rattner also recently called the campaign's ads against Bain "unfair." Both Booker and Rattner have since walked back their original statements.

Romney's campaign has countered the Bain attacks by arguing that the president's lack of private-sector work experience left him unprepared to guide the economic recovery, hammering Obama on the administration's $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar firm Solyndra, which they say wasted taxpayer dollars and failed to create jobs. 

In the interview with Weinstein, Clinton — who is set to attend a string of fundraisers with Obama in New York on Monday — predicted that Obama will end up winning the election in November "by 5 or 6 points."

"I've always thought so," he said.