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. Anonymous

    All the above sounds just about on the button in all respects ex Obama and Clinton.
    The Republican solution is more Austerity, less taxes, ( especially for the rich) QED higher unemployment. and the old old line of trickle down economics. = What failed Bush. I just cannot see how Republicans believe they can win by lowering taxes ( deficit and debt growth) spending more on defense + war with Iran and austerity that hits the less privileged and all the middle class big time. See the Ryan budget.
    Those policies of Austerity are exactly what Europeans say are not working and making things worse not better.
    I have yet to hear a sensible plan from Romney on Job creation.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    June 5, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. john

    Yes the government is there to help us do things we can,t do ourselves like education,healthcare,unemployment asssistance,social security and medicaid administration,regulating the macro and micro economic functions,investment in technology and infrastructure etc,etc but under Obama leadership ,GOP and its affiliate Tea Party always say NO to everthing the president put before them for consideration and passage.they say they wan,t make him a ONE TERM PRESIDENT and threfore opposes every proposal by the president.This is to the detriment of the american economy and American people.
    Every good economist will agree that huge spending has to be made in to the economy when the there is a great recession in to put money into the hand of people to spend and creating a cyclical money and wealth systerm-people especially the middle class will use the injected money to buy goods and services,the companies and the upper class wiil make more profit ,pay more tax to the government and hire more people because ther is demmand.After the recession is cotained then the government wiill come in to apply a continues deficit financing and monenetary strategies to balance it up.It must be noted that in the middle of serious austerity or deep budjet cuts like what the GOP is proposing is a BIG BIG detrimental to the economy.The best way as being proposed by president Obama and Democrats is the BALANCE APROACH-spending alongside austerity but the GOP is not buying this good economic theory but the recession was created by them and they want to aggravate it under Obama to make look very bad before American people.It must be be noted that they are going to loose this election because their theory didd,t work in past and is not going to in future .

    June 5, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The Clinton support machine, including Gov. Rendell, had best get their talking points fined tuned in their support of Obama. Should Hillary decide to run in 2016, I'd hate to see her lose Obama's support base because of HER
    supporters reluctance to go the extra mile for him. Especially if he should lose in November. Consider this is a friendly reminder that she'll need each and every one of us. If there is even the smallest indication that the Clinton's are withdrawing their support for Obama simply to gain future support for Hillary, it becomes an "all she wrote" 2016 scenario of Obama supporters looking elsewhere.

    In other news, I see that Mitt Romney is defending his years as Massachutes governor by stating that "he was left with a recession to dig out of". So, the question to TeamRomney becomes "was THAT state recession left to Romney any worse than the national recession left to President Obama to dig out of?" I'm thinking not.

    June 5, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. chuck weidemann

    Speak plainly,speak the truth and help people remember where we were and what uncertainty we were facing only 3 short years ago. Point out the cooperation and lack thereof which has brought us to the here and now.....then understand we must not let fear stop the changing of a decade of wealth building for the few. The working class has been under attack being transformed into the serving class. This is not made America it is what could turn America into a third world country!

    June 5, 2012 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. milan milenkovic

    I do NOT need expectations; I want to believe in leadership!
    Pr. Obama should take ALL help what he can get to win re-election. Country is politically divided, but I think that Bill Clinton can motivate INDEPENDENT voters (38%) to vote for Obama , and he can help to MOTIVATE people to GO to vote ( in 2010. only 44% people vote)??? Former Pr. Clinton and Sec. Hillary already did outstanding job to help Pr. Obama to move this country forward in right direction…
    Even with dysfunctional Congress, Obama Adm. add 4,3 million jobs during past 27 months ( do NOT forget that Bush adm. Lost 8 million jobs and add $ 6,1 trillion to US national debt), with growth ONLY 1,9% in 1Q this year ( I expect slow but steady growth in USA this and next year)!
    I have NO doubt that Pr. Obama will be re-elected, this year! ( Mr. Romney can get maximum 40-45% votes in November election)!

    June 5, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I will never forget the TV photo op when Bush called McCain and Obama off the campaign trail to inform them of the bailouts and neither McCain or Obama were on the finance committee. The deceit by Bush and his administration to make it appear that was the only economic problem we had knowing full well the problem was worst but wouldn't unfold until he left office. The Republicans couldn't have written a better script that desolved themselves of any responsibility which is being sold to the American people. If the truth was told this would be a #1 Book Seller.

    June 5, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens always has someone else to blame for his failed leadership in MA. He cries of inheriting a recession, and that was why he was 47th in job creation, but fails to give any credit to our president for 4 million private sector jobs being created in three years after the loss of 8 million jobs in Bush's near depression. What is that 'sauce' saying that Mittens always uses?

    June 5, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Yankees fan

    Sounds like a fun night

    June 5, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Lizzie

    After Pres.Clinton told everyone about Romneys "sterling" career, we did not have to wait very long to hear him say, It was taken out of context.

    June 5, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. Marry

    @ Really?
    Not to be able to understand the difference between Republicans and Democrats and what does and does not benefits the country is REALLY sad. Like someone before said:
    The Republican solution is more austerity, less taxes, (especially for the rich so called "job creators") QED higher unemployment and the old, old line of trickle-down economics = That failed Reagan and W. Bush. I just cannot see how Republicans believe they can win by lowering taxes ( deficit and debt growth) spending more on defense + war with Iran and austerity that hits the less privileged and all the middle class big time. See the Ryan budget. You want to work for that? Really??? That would be a very bad choice!

    June 5, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney wants people to believe that profits at Bain Capital equated into job creation. A lot of people don't want Democrats to push that message because they think it become blurred and hurt fund raising, which it already has. But, I think it is the right message because "trickle down economics" and "job creators" is just a scam to allow an elite to get ahead and stay ahead. Riddle me this. If Mitt Romney's profits made him such a job creator, how come he stores those profits in overseas bank accounts?

    June 5, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. Anonymous

    "I have yet to hear a sensible plan from Romney on Job creation."

    He has no plan. What he will do however is give himself a huge tax cut. Seems to be the only plan GOPers have anymore ... tax cuts for the wealthy. Eventually they hope and pray that it will bring jobs back to America.

    Meanwhile, Americans are either too blind or too politically divisive to realize that their tax cuts still haven't created jobs. Certainly not in the past decade anyway. Quite the contrary, actually. Doubt me? Just take a look at the unemployment numbers.

    It also escapes them that the corporations they are supporting are sitting on millions of profit, thumbing their corporate noses at Americans. And yet, GOPers still come to CNN everyday to tell us just how horrible it is for corporate America to function economically.

    June 5, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Romney taking USA backward with "A Better Amercia"

    Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Romney wants to impose austerity measures on ALL AMERICANS – you & your family & grand children, but cutting just about anything from medicare, to social security and even the Dept of Education....while exploding the US DEFICITS by passing more TAX CUTS on top of the GW BUSH TAX CUTS to enrich his Wall Street Fat Cat's and the Koch Brother's millionaires!!!

    This is the sme guy that was 47th in JOB CREATION!!!! Rmember that!

    June 5, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. paul

    Wow, and I just heard on FOX opinion station that Clinton and others threw Obama under the bus. Tell you what GOP'ers; Let Booker, Clinton, and Ed Rendell vote to determine the next president. Since Fox said the three of them are against Obama then they should agree.

    June 5, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. jim

    why is everyone bickering at whose fault it is. that really doesn't matter now the country has a huge problem with the economy and we need someone to fix it. obama keeps saying that it would be worst without his policies and he may be right but he is also admitting that its the best he could do and at 8.3 % unemployment i think his best is not working out.

    June 5, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. suzibee

    Lets get energized people!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Seriously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Jewels

    Good thing Mr. Romney has Donald Trump to make it a level-playing field. ::grin:: On a serious note, the Democrats need to vote this year. This is not something to be casual about. Not paranoid - just feel that we all should do what we can and not make any assumptions...

    June 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Larry L

    @jim

    why is everyone bickering at whose fault it is. that really doesn't matter now the country has a huge problem with the economy and we need someone to fix it. obama keeps saying that it would be worst without his policies and he may be right but he is also admitting that its the best he could do and at 8.3 % unemployment i think his best is not working out.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    It is important the Republicans man-up to their administration's share of the blame for the recession. Two wars sand a cut & spend policy was the cause! Republicans have been doing nothing nothing but obstructing every initiative with constant filibustering (over 110!) in the Senate and nothing coming out of the House but bills loaded with pork and political sound-bites. It's ridiculous to blame the President for enough progress when the Republicans are only working to block any meaningful improvements – for their own political gain in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Could a football coach win with half of the team trying to make the team lose?

    June 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Rupert Murdoch = Josef Goebbels

    Don't feel bad GOTPers, a lot of smart Germans were tricked into hating diversity, too.

    "Job creators" only react to "money spenders." My boss doesn't need a tax break, he needs customers spending their money. A tax break won't make him hire anyone if he doesn't have customers to justify it.

    Hint: my customers are your employees, and your customers are my employees.
    And what is the proper "free market" way to put more money in the hands of employees? UNIONS!

    Answer: steeper progressive tax rate, public education to the phD level, public healthcare, make "right-to-work" unconstitional, put Rupert Murdoch in jail and make FOX call themselves "alternative, unethical pseudo-journalism." Scratch that – shouldn't use the word "journalism" at all.

    June 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Obama sure is getting desperate by calling Bill Clinton in so much as a surrogate. Weak, weak, weak..... Obama and the Democrats are gradually seeing the writin gon the wall. Here, let me read it to you.... "Pack your bags".

    June 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. weldon gebhard

    ........raising taxes, 2 Trillion a year of deficit spending, continuing wars has worked?
    Clinton says raising his taxes won't solve the problem.
    Gee, if we would just go green............

    June 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama toured the country telling the American people what he would do to improve the economy and how he would go about dealing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq! He also talked about his anti terrorism strategies to improve our national security and the types of diplomatic policies he would employ to deal with our enemies and then he talked about efforts to restore America's trust and credibility abroad and so on! Fast forward four years later and what is candidate Romney telling the American people? Absolutely NOTHING! For two years on the campaign trail Mitt Romney has toured the country criticizing President Obama's economic policies but he is yet to shed light on what he would do differently to improve the economy and reduce unemployment to that luscious 4% he talked about! In fact, what I really want to hear is how different would a president Romney economic agenda be from that of GWB! Mitt Romney has already said if elected president he would repeal Wall Street Reform, continue tax breaks for millionaires and return to the same trickle down economics that got us into all this mess in the first place! But I'm not concerned about Mitt Romney's safety net because President Obama has this election in the bank! Obama/Biden 2012!

    June 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. skylark

    As a high school student in the "50's", Civics Class was mandatory. It is obvious that it is no longer taught.
    Reading the posts on this and other web sights it occurs to me that we should reincarnate the class.
    A pitifully small group have any understanding of the duties and responsiblities of the individual departments of
    government.
    It also saddens me to know that simple Civility has suffered the same demise.

    June 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Kimberly

    The republicans made a HUGE mistake by pouncing on Clinton saying Romneys "stellar" business career. He was trying to be polite, and but use him as a pawn, and you will feel his wrath. He will now attack Romney for all his ignorant policies that failed in Mass. Clinton KNOWS romney is a joke of a candidate, and knows he is weak and has no back bone to stand up for this country. Thank you republicans for trying to make it look like Clinton liked your boy...THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

    June 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. TeamChaos

    Obama is in so much trouble he is handing out school waivers, trying to buy votes with insurance refund check (with his name on it), changing and comparing himself to past presidents. Good luck the economy is worse, unemployment is higher and government spending and corruption is out of control. going around the world and saying how bad America is and appeasing every terrorist to make friends will not work, China and Russia are both building up their military for what? We are downsizing ours. he is nothing more than a dangerous president that has spent America in to oblivion.

    June 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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