June 4th, 2012
09:11 PM ET
3 years ago

Clinton, Obama pounce on GOP policies at fundraisers

(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama tag-teamed in their criticism of Republicans on Monday night, taking swipes at the GOP and its presidential nominee in a round of New York City fundraisers.

"What the other side is counting on is fear and frustration," Obama said to an audience of donors, arguing that Republicans are not offering any ideas of their own.

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"All they're offering is the same old ideas that didn't work then, and won't work now," he added.

His comments came at an event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, featuring a performance by musician Jon Bon Jovi. Tickets started at $2,500 for the 500 guests.

Saying he was more determined than he was in his 2008 presidential run, Obama faulted his Republican rivals for their economic policies, saying the party is too eager to throw "sand in the gears" in Congress and would "take us back to the exact same policies that got us into this mess in the first place."

Clinton's remarks earlier in the evening shared those sentiments. Speaking on the same stage, Clinton blasted Mitt Romney for pushing policies that favor large spending cuts over tax increases, saying the presumptive GOP nominee's plan harkens back to policies from President George W. Bush's administration - "except on steroids."

At a different fundraising event earlier in the night, Clinton took his comments further, saying a win for the Republican in November would be "calamitous for our country and the world."

Clinton's speech came just days after he sparked a backlash among Democrats for complimenting Romney's "sterling" private equity career.

On Friday, the former president said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" that Romney "crosses the qualification threshold" with his background in business and public service as Massachusetts governor, comments that fell out of line with Democratic messaging.

But on Monday, Clinton said Romney and Republicans are pursuing an economic agenda that would lead the country to the conditions now faced by Europe.

"(Republicans') economic policy is austerity and unemployment now, and then a long-term budget that would explode the debt when the economy recovers so the interest rates would be so high, nobody would be able to do anything," Clinton said, according to pool notes from a print reporter in the room.

Obama, unlike Republicans, would promote job creation and long-term budget restraint, Clinton said.
"The politics is wrong on the Republican side, the economics are crazy," the former president added.

The event was held at the Manhattan home of Marc Lasry, billionaire founder of Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund. Between 40 and 50 people attended, with tickets at $40,000 each, according to a campaign official.

Offering some praise for Obama, Clinton said the president "has good politics, he's got a good record, he's made the best of a very challenging situation" and "deserves to be re-elected."

Later in the evening, at the Waldorf, Clinton boosted his praise of Obama, saying: "It is essential to re-elect the president if we want this country to have the kind of future that our children and grandchildren deserve."

In his own remarks, Obama credited the former president with leading a strong economy in the '90s, arguing the country fared well under Clinton because he "understood what it takes for this economy."

"Nobody has a better grasp and understanding of the issues than this man," Obama said.

The president also weighed in on what he sees as a drastic change in the Republican Party over the years in terms of economic policy.

"They have run from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism when it comes to the marketplace. A belief that all regulations are bad. That government has no role to play," Obama said.

Later, the presidential pair made a third fundraising appearance in New York on Monday night. They attended a concert at The New Amsterdam Theater for an audience of 1,700 people.

While the president mostly repeated earlier comments from the night, he slipped up at one point, referring to Mitt Romney as "George Romney," Mitt's late father who served as Michigan governor and made a presidential bid in 1968.

"Wrong guy," Obama said to a laughing audience.

Among the guests slated to perform at the event were Neil Patrick Harris, Meagn Hilty, Cheyenne Jackson, James Earl Jones, Tony Kushner, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, and Jeffrey Wright. Tickets for the event started at $250 per person.

Three contest winners and their guests were also in attendance at the gala and concert and were set to meet privately with Obama and Clinton.

Proceeds from Monday's events benefit the Obama Victory fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also see:

Poll: Romney's favorable rating jumps, but Obama still more popular

Romney backer offers soft Obama praise

Barrett on a presidential visit: Obama's busy


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • Fundraising • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Terry

    Wouldn't it be nice to have Clinton as the VP?

    June 4, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. mike

    "calamitous for our country and the world." Unless you have a short memory that's an understatement.

    June 4, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  3. Sahara

    thats why am voting DEM all way this fall

    June 4, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Vote for freedom and the American way of life, vote Obama/Biden.

    June 4, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Romney wrong on Solyndra.

    June 4, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. rex daniels

    Clinton is playing politics. wishing he could run again and he would probably beat no-obama. mit is the better choice, would create moore jobs and move the economy. if any one is heading us towards europe its our current president mr. clinton.

    June 4, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  7. Thomas

    That is one cool photo.

    Looks like aTribute to Frank, Sammy in Las Vegas !

    Romney just doesn't have any cool .

    Mitt Romney / Pat Boone 2012

    June 4, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    "All they're offering is the same old ideas that didn't work then, and won't work now," he [President Obama] added.

    I agree, it's bordering on mental illness the way the GOP clings to its failed policies, hoping they can convince enough people to indulge magical thinking and vote against their own self-interest, foolishly believing that if we would just give the rich even more tax breaks and deregulate industry everything will trickle down and everyone will prosper – ALL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. President! Democrats, Independents and thinking Republicans WILL re-elect you to four more years of economic recovery and investment in our and our country's future!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    June 4, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. escher7

    The boys are correct. Romney keeps saying "I have experience and will fix the economy" but I have not heard any sound plan. He is running on change for the sake of change. Pretty empty platform.

    June 5, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  10. Living in the REAL world

    What isn't working are Obama and the Democrat policies. Bush's policies brought over 4 years of growth and employment until the Democrat's mortgages for those that can't afford them program brought the financial segment down. The Democrats and LSM keep repeating the BIG LIE that Bush's policies crashed the economy, well guess what. DEMOCRATS controlled Congress when the economy tanked!!! But somehow one man, Bush, crashed the entire financial sector??? Pure lunacy and lies that the leftist press refuses to stop repeating.

    June 5, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  11. JUAN MO FO'S

    Go obama, biden and clinton i know the election is ours romney is a flip flop candidate and he does not stand a chance

    June 5, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  12. enuff

    Romney isn't smiling so much at Clinton now.

    June 5, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  13. enuff

    Romney has no meat in any of his speeches. It's all hot air blowing any way he thinks will get votes.

    June 5, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  14. sithlord1

    Seems like if you look at the electoral map and previous winners of the 15 toss up states then Romney actually has a good shot a winning.

    June 5, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  15. nolimits3333

    Obama and Clinton....the two best presidents in the last 40 years.

    June 5, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  16. krl

    Its good to see that the 2 democratic presidents together campaigning to keep this country from the republicans because there agenda is to get obama out of office by any means necessary i know president obama hasnt done everything that we as supporters of his would like but he is the better of the 2 evils just think about it romney is representing rich folks only while obama is representing the poor the middle class and the rich think about that for all of you middle class and poor people out there remember who controlls the congress which are the republicans who has done a lot of things to prevent obama from creating jobs and getting this country in the right direction because there agenda is to make him a one term president

    June 5, 2012 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  17. Coloradan

    I keep hearing Republicans saying Obama has made things worse. Really? For Obama to have made things worse we would have to be losing 800,000 jobs a month instead of the 700,000 jobs a month we were losing a few years ago when we had a Republican President. Under Obama we have instead had 27 consecutive months of private sector job growth.

    June 5, 2012 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  18. Gurgyl

    For your information, GOP policy is IRAN WAR, bring illegals to USA or send jobs to India, China be they call-center or medical or manufacturing make money stash in Cayman island or swiss...

    June 5, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  19. Jerry

    Oh well... Hypocrisy knows no bounds. POUNCE?! on Republicans?! I thought these two divisive fools wanted to work with Republicans to get the business of the nation accomplished!

    Oh well, America 2012 is around the corner... lets put these fools out to pasture once and for all!!!

    June 5, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  20. Dave

    I was all in for President Obama, until VP forced his hand in the Gay thing. I am really sure as a Christian, President Obama doesn't agree with gay marriage. Partners should be accepted by all. Why push the buttons? Since there isn't anything on the otherside, I think Mr. Obama should seek a stronger VP.

    June 5, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  21. Dave

    I was a career GOPer until McCain went fishing in the toilet for a running mate. Knowing what I know now, the crookedness of the GOPers like Hannity, I would have been an all in DEM since President Clintons days. President Clinton will be good for President Obama's campaign.

    June 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  22. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Clinton is correct that Romney is qualified to be president. I am also since I am have the age requirement and am a natural born in the US. If we want to get beyond that, then I don't think that Romney understands and cares enough about all of his fellow Americans. His policy plans don't help everyone and those that get help don't typically help the rest.

    June 5, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  23. Ben M

    We are creating jobs, not loosing. Even if one job is created, that means one family that is happy. Imagine 65,000 family, instead of 65,000 family that lost their job.....

    June 5, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  24. Liz the First

    Peace and prosperity under Clinton, war and the practical destruction of our economy under Bush. gee, let's see, hmmmmm. which is better? how can anyone think war and recession are better than peace and prosperity? how long is it going to take before folks realize things are always worse for average Americans when republicans are in control??? how many times do we Democrats have to clean up their messes before folks quit giving them the opportunity to MAKE the messes???

    June 5, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  25. Really?

    "Obama, unlike Republicans, would promote job creation and long-term budget restraint, Clinton said."
    What a joke. Actually, let's phrase that correctly: Obama would promote government jobs and long term tax increases on the private sector until every private business owner flees the country and America is completely turned into a third world country.

    June 5, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
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