NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Former President Bill Clinton rallied the Democratic faithful in New England on Sunday, urging them to support his longtime friend and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut and persuade their neighbors not to give in to their anger toward the economy and incumbents.
He also made stops in Maine and Massachusetts, appearing with candidates for governor and other offices.
“Any time in life you make a really important decision when you’re mad, there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll make a mistake,” Clinton told a crowd in New Haven, Conn., estimated by Blumenthal’s campaign to be about 2,000. “So the trick is to channel your anger, not be consumed by it.”
Blumenthal, a Yale Law School classmate of Clinton’s, is in a tight race against Republican Linda McMahon to fill Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.
McMahon, a former wrestling executive and political newcomer who has pledged to spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the race, isn’t considered a tea party activist but has capitalized on the mood for change in Washington and has shrunk Blumenthal’s lead to six percentage points, according the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, by flooding the TV airwaves and voters’ mailboxes with political ads.
McMahon has tried to paint Blumenthal, who has been the state’s attorney general for nearly two decades, as a political insider and someone the people of Connecticut can’t trust.
Sunday marked a full day of campaigning and fundraising throughout New England for the former president, one of the Democrats’ biggest stars.
Clinton stumped in Taunton, Mass., for U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a longtime friend vying for his 16th term. He spoke later at a fundraiser in Boston for the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts’ treasurer, Steve Grossman, who was the Democratic National Committee chairman while Clinton was in office.
Late Sunday, Clinton wrapped up his three-state swing in Maine to rally support for Libby Mitchell, the Democratic candidate for governor. Clinton headlined a standing-room-only crowd at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
He appeared earlier Sunday at a Blumenthal fundraiser where supporters paid as much as $5,000 to appear in photos with him.
Clinton did not mention Blumenthal’s well-known rival, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO McMahon, during his address at Wilbur Cross High School. But he did joke in Colorado that the conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate “probably spent too much time in that wrestling ring.” This summer, Dan Maes said a Denver bike-sharing program could threaten residents’ “personal freedoms” because it’s part of an attempt to control U.S. cities.
McMahon’s campaign countered that Blumenthal needed Clinton to help his chances in November.
“With all the polls moving in the wrong direction for Blumenthal, it’s very clear that President Clinton was deployed to Connecticut because Blumenthal’s campaign is in serious trouble,” McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said in a statement.
Some Democrats have complained that Blumenthal has not aggressively challenged McMahon and her record at World Wrestling Entertainment. Last week, his campaign launched an ad that attempted to fight off McMahon’s criticism of his tax positions and made reference to how WWE laid off 10 percent of its employees in 2009 while she took home $46 million a year.
Clinton spoke highly of Blumenthal, saying the attorney general “could have run for another job and almost certainly could have won it” but continued on “because he wanted to do the job you hired him to do.”
For much of his speech, Clinton reminded Democrats of the economic accomplishments his administration achieved and how the current economy is showing signs of improvement since President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, has been in office — arguments the party faithful can make to their fellow voters before the Nov. 2 election.
“There is nothing wrong with this country we can’t fix, but we have to think and act and choose and make the right choice,” Clinton told the cheering crowd.