Clinton raises money for Democratic senators

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Bill Clinton has emerged from semi-retirement to aid the hard-pressed Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which is trying to keep its slim Senate majority of four seats.

He’s signed his name to a fundraising plea that declares that “the safety net could be shredded beyond recognition, our schools and infrastructure left to crumble” if the GOP gains four Senate seats in November.

“The DSCC has organized a matching program so that every dollar you give will be matched, one-to-one. … They MUST raise $831,244 to help our senators hold off Karl Rove and the powerful attack machine,” reads the appeal, which arrived in an envelope prominently displaying Clinton’s name.

Clinton is also moving to insert himself into the presidential election.

An April 23 article in Politico highlighted his closed-door recommendations to President Barack Obama’s campaign team.

In November, Clinton pressed the Obama team to portray likely GOP front-runner Mitt Romney as a disciplined, ideological, small-government conservative.

However, Obama’s team preferred to portray him as unreliable, unpredictable “say anything Mitt” during the GOP’s relatively ideological primaries, and has only recently begun alleging that Romney’s policies are “radical.”

It is not clear how seriously the public, or even the media, will treat Obama’s rhetorical about-face.

There’s little evidence that Obama likes Clinton, or respects his advice.

The two have been engaged in a on-and-off exchange of passive-aggressive insults and jibes ever since Obama overcame Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, to win the 2008 Democratic primary.

For example, the two traded insults at an April 2009 tree-planting ceremony in D.C.

Obama complained that somebody had forgotten his boots, prompting Clinton to remark “See? You’re light on your feet.” Obama responded that Clinton “has pretty good shoveling skills.” Clinton then began digging an extra hole for another tree, because “I got twice as much experience as everyone else,” he told a reporter.

After the 2010 election, in which the GOP used Obama’s Obamacare law to win huge victories in local and state elections and to regain control of the House, Obama invited Clinton to speak at the White House press room. Clinton held the podium for so long that Obama excused himself and left.

Hillary Clinton has excused herself from the 2012 presidential campaign trail, and there’s little sign that Bill Clinton will play a role.

But his support for Senate Democrats keeps him in the political game and builds friendships that might come in handy.

Clinton’s letter for the DSCC does not mention Romney — the former Massachusetts governor who pushed through a government-run state-wide health-care system. Nor does he mention the nation’s massive debt, unemployment, the unpopular Obamacare law or any legislation passed by the Senate.

Instead, he pitches a vague threat about would-be radical Republican senators threatening to gut welfare and support programs.

“Today’s Republicans are even more radical than when when I was in office,” Clinton’s letter begins. “The majority of Republicans haven’t just tried to cut Medicare — they’ve voted to eliminate it.”

Senate Democrats will need all the help they can get to keep their four-seat margin.

If Obama loses re-election, it is likely that his loss will drag down Democrat’s Senate majority as well, potentially handing power to a Republican Senate majority.

To keep the majority, Senate Democrats, led by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, have avoided the painful task of writing a national budget for 2013, after earlier avoiding any effort to pass budget bills for 2011 and 2012. Instead, they have scheduled a series of fights over student loans, over aid for women in relationships and over condoms in the hopes of spurring a somewhat demoralized base of supporters.

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Neil Munro