Clinton parallels Eastwood in saying election is about a contract, not ideology

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Shortly before his choreographed speech at the Democratic convention, President Bill Clinton seemed to echo Clint Eastwood’s urging that voters should treat the re-election campaign as a dollars-and-cents contract renewal, not as an ideological statement.

Obama’s “approach is right and it will pay off if we renew his contract,” Clinton told NBC’s Brian Williams.

“People don’t feel it yet, but they’re going to benefit if they stay with him.”

In the TV interview, Clinton focused on dollars-and-cents, not the ideological baggage that Obama is adding to the platform, such as gay marriage, immigration work permits and green-tech research.

The portrayal of the election as a dispassionate calculation of gains-and-losses was also pushed by Eastwood in his Aug. 30 impromptu speech.

“Politicians are employees of ours and — so — they are just going to come around and beg for votes every few years,” he said. “But when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go,” he said to applause from the GOP attendees.

Obama and his deputies have tried to downplay a cost-and-benefits debate of his term, and have instead portrayed the president as someone who saved the nation from the 2008 crash, and is now preparing it for future growth.

That stance sidesteps debate over the stalled economy, which features record unemployment and deficits, declining wages and falling consumer-confidence.

A draft of Clinton’s Sept. 5 speech for the convention pushed that official theme.

“I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better,” said the speech.

Obama “inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators,” said the draft.

Clinton, though, disagreed with Eastwood’s conclusion.

“I respect him. I think he should be re-elected,” Clinton said.

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