Former President Bill Clinton has hit the campaign trail in Arkansas this week in support of four embattled Democrats; and his message appears to be that he understands Democratic and independent voters want to vote against Obama, but they have to think of the future beyond the end of Obama’s presidency.
Clinton has four rallies scheduled across the state, three of them at colleges and universities, according to a report in Politico. The beneficiaries are long-time friend and political associates: Mark Pryor for Senate, Mike Ross for Governor, Clinton’s former FEMA director James Lee Witt (4th CD) and Patrick Henry Hays (2nd CD). All are behind, in relatively close races, obviously being shaped by voters’ disgust with Obama. Gallup reports that the highest portion of voters they’ve ever polled are planning to “send a message” of opposition to Obama by voting against Democrats. This “no! message” is 32% of registered voters, higher even than that against Bush in 2008. Obama’s former political chief David Axelrod told “Meet the Press” that “It was a mistake” for Obama to say, in Chicago on Oct. 3, that his “policies are on the ballot, every one of them.”
Clinton, knowing that Arkansas has gone sharply right against Obama’s presidency—the last southern state to turn “red”—told the crowd at University of Southern Arkansas, “They want you to make this a protest vote. They’re saying, ‘You may like these guys [Arkansas Democratic candidates], but hey, you know what you gotta do, you gotta vote against the president. After all, its your last shot.’ Its a pretty good scam, isn’t it?”
“But,” Clinton said, “they’re saying, you gotta give me [Republicans] six years for a protest that will be irrelevant in two.” Clinton repeated the same point over and over in different phrasings: “Think of the future,” “It doesn’t have a lick to do with Washington, D.C. [i.e., with Obama],” and so forth.
No one can better turn out the Clinton base than Clinton, said Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas, had told Politico, “No one can turn out the Clinton base than Clinton…. I think among his constituency, traditional Democratic constituency voters, he is still very, very strong.”