Friday, June 22, 2018
Politics

Clinton stumps for Obama in Orlando

ORLANDO — Inside a dark and smoky Daytona Beach bar this week, bartender Trish Mackie commiserated with a customer about the sorry state of the economy and political leadership.

"But I'm still voting for Barack Obama,'' she said. "Just like Bill Clinton said at the convention, it'll take at least eight years to fix the mess Obama inherited."

Doug Tyler, who had just said he couldn't stomach either Obama or Mitt Romney, nodded his head: "Well, having heard Clinton speak — and I never liked the guy when he was president — it does make me think twice about Obama. He did get (Osama) bin Laden, and I do give him some credit for coming into this economy and at least keeping us somewhat stable."

Such is the elevated status of Clinton, who after years of well-documented tension with Obama, now looks like one of the most potent forces in Obama's re-election campaign.

"I'm telling you what works is cooperation. What fails is constant conflict," Clinton told a crowd of 2,000 in Orlando Wednesday night, ridiculing the GOP suggestion that they can shrink the deficit by cutting trillions of dollars in taxes, largely for wealthy Americans.

It's no accident that if you turn on your TV in the Interstate 4 corridor lately you're more likely to see Clinton talking up Obama than any other Obama campaign ad.

Nor is it any accident that after the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign promptly dispatched Clinton to campaign in Florida and Ohio.

Clinton has broad appeal, but he connects with working class white voters in a way that polls show Obama does not. Given the former president's record leading the country during a period of strong economic growth and balanced budgets, he also is a potent surrogate among voters who may be skeptical about Obama's record.

"I honestly believe it doesn't matter who caused it or whether the contributing factors all happened under President (George W.) Bush or something I did or something Ronald Reagan did 30 years ago. Regardless, President Obama didn't cause it," Clinton, 66, said of the economic meltdown, speaking at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando.

"As someone who, beginning when I was governor in 1979, has spent a lifetime trying to create jobs and help people start businesses and expand manufacturing and create opportunity for people to train and educate them to seize those opportunities, it is my opinion that no president, not Barack Obama, not Bill Clinton not anybody who served before us — nobody who ever had this job — could repair that much damage to this economy," he said.

Clinton conspicuously steered clear of any mention of the attacks on American diplomats in Libya and Egypt. But just as he did during his well-received convention speech, he played homespun professor in ridiculing the Republican's vague budget and tax plans and wholeheartedly defending Obama's health care reform law, and its impact on entitlements.

The former president seized on Republican attacks that Obama slashed the popular Medicare Advantage program.

"Now that is a bullet aimed right at Florida, because you have 1.2 million in Medicare Advantage," Clinton said, explaining that the cuts involved reduced payments and profit margins for private Medicare Advantage providers.

"They said nobody will want to offer it," Clinton said of critics. "Last year, after the bill passed? Record number of insurance companies applied to offer Medicare Advantage. Last year after the bill passed? Seventeen percent more people enrolled in Medicare Advantage. And last year after the bill passed the premium price for being there dropped 16 percent."

He continued: "I just want you to remember that if you see all these ads. All these changes, and we've got more companies, more people, and lower prices. So if the president was trying to wreck Medicare Advantage he did a poor job of it."

On his two-day swing through Florida, Clinton also took time to attend fundraisers for South Florida congressional candidates Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy (Republican-turned-independent former Gov. Charlie Crist joined Clinton there) and for Central Florida Democratic congressional candidates Val Demings and Heather Beaven.

At times, he sounded more like a Central Florida mayor than the last two-term Democratic president. He spoke of the local candidates like longtime friends, and he hailed the more than 100 computer simulation companies that have popped up in Orlando.

"Florida is the future, today. You have lots of young people with great diversity and enormous promise, and too much poverty. You have a ton of old folks, just like all of America is going to have when us baby boomers retire," Clinton said. "Then you've got these folks in the middle, trying to build an entrepreneurial future."

Adam C. Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18