June 29th, 2010
04:04 PM ET
13 years ago

Bill Clinton at odds with party over Colorado race

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/29/art.clintonbill.gi.jpg caption="In an email to supporters, Clinton endorsed Andrew Romanoff for Colorado's Democratic Senate nomination, rather than incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet."]

Washington (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton announced Tuesday that he is endorsing challenger Andrew Romanoff in the battle for Colorado's Democratic Senate nomination, rather than support incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. The move puts the former president at odds with his national party.

In an email to supporters, Clinton said that he supports Romanoff, "and I hope you will too. Please make a generous contribution to his campaign today."

In the email, the former president says he first met Romanoff in 1992. Clinton then goes on to describe what he calls the many accomplishments by Romanoff as a state lawmaker and then as Colorado's first Democratic House speaker since 1976.

"Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff's leadership. America will be too," add Clinton.

While Clinton is backing Romanoff, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is helping Bennet, who was plucked out of political obscurity early last year when Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter named him to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, who stepped down to serve as Interior Secretary in the Obama Administration. Prior to moving to Denver, Bennet served as a counsel to the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice during the Clinton Administration.

Romanoff, who is no longer serving as House speaker, faces off against Bennet in Colorado's August 10 primary. Romanoff scored points at Democratic precinct caucuses this spring, but a recent poll suggests Bennet leads the Democratic Senate battle by double digits. Bennet also maintains a large advantage of Romanoff in the race for campaign cash, thanks in part to an appearance by President Obama at a Bennet fundraiser in Colorado in February.

Regardless of who wins in the primary, the Democrats will have a fight on their hands to keep the seat in November's general election. Clinton thinks that Romanoff would be the stronger candidate.

"Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead. I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November," says the former president.

Earlier this month Romanoff said that a senior White House aide suggested last year that three administration jobs might be open to him if he abandoned plans to run against Bennet. But Romanoff also noted that he was never offered a position by the White House.

In a statement, the White House said that Romanoff applied for a position at USAID during the presidential transition, applying online. After Obama took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel, the statement said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina "called and e-mailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID or if, as had been reported, he was running for the U.S. Senate," said the statement from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"Months earlier, the president had endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters."

Romanoff told Messina he was committed to running for the Senate and was no longer interested in working for the Obama administration, "and that ended the discussion," the White House said. "As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job."

–CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon contributed to this report

Filed under: Andrew Romanoff • Bill Clinton • Colorado • Michael Bennet
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    There was likely a sum of cash involved in that!

    June 29, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. snow

    The only way another tax and spend demorat can make this country better is if each liberal demorat left the country.

    June 29, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. david thomas

    President Clinton usually knows what he is talking about.

    Frankly, I still miss Bill.

    June 29, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. gt

    its bill way to gert more speaking engagements to make more money

    June 29, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Gary

    I think Clinton is in Colorado to hook up with women....those colorado women are hot!

    June 29, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. ConstitutionalPatriot

    oh boy who cares! Why are the democrats even relevant at this point? Look at what they have done we don't need any more of that surely!

    June 29, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Why

    He needs to find a palm tree somewhere, write his memoirs, think fond memories of ML and get out of the public eye. He's had his 15 minutes of fame. And take Al with him.

    June 29, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Actually for once...I do agree with Bill on this one. Romanoff appears to be a stronger, more accomplished candidate.

    June 29, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Ben

    "Romanoff appears to be a stronger, more accomplished candidate."

    Based on what? I've seen nothing to indicate that. It won't matter anyway. A Repub is probably going to win that seat.

    June 29, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. ib

    Mr. Thomas; Obama makes me miss every president but him. How I wished this country had not elected the messiah.

    June 29, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Obama will win

    I still think Bill is a great guy.

    June 29, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Myron

    I call it for Romanoff. It was Big Bill who pulled Blanche Lincoln's hide out of the fire.

    June 29, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Thomas

    I'm a Coloradan and it's about time that Andrew Romanoff started getting the support he deserves from the democratic party.

    Romanoff is a very intelligent and hard-working young man who rose to the presidency of the state senate by being the person who brought sides together to get things done.

    I respect Sen. Bennett. He's a nice man. But he was not chosen by the people of this state. He was the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Everyone in the state expected the governor to appoint Romanoff to the seat vacated by Ken Salazar when he became Sec. of Interior, but to our amazement, he was not.

    Andrew Romanoff will be the democratic nominee and he will be our next senator.

    And if the conservatives on here knew the republicans running for office in Colorado, you'd not only know I was right but you'd probably be voting democrat this year, too.

    June 29, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Steve, New York City

    Andrew Romanoff – sounds like someone who would have fit in seamlessly within president Clinton's cabinet. What does bubba have against gentiles?

    June 29, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. PalmReader

    ConstitutionalPatriot June 29th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

    oh boy who cares! Why are the democrats even relevant at this point? Look at what they have done we don't need any more of that surely!

    I care, Patriot. I care a great deal. Which is why I will never again support a political party - the Republican Party specifically - that walks hand in hand with Big Business regardless of the consequences to middle America.

    What the democrats have DONE, Patriot, is keep us from spiralling out of control as the GOPers continue to try and push us further into an economic depression of their own making.

    For that the Democrats have my gratitude. And my vote.

    June 29, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Bill in California

    WHAT A JOKE. A LOSER promoting a LOSER. Clinton lost all his credibility when he shook his crooked finger at the camera and said "I did NOT have sex with this woman Monica Lewinsky" and later in court mystifying everyone with his now famous "It depends on what the definition of 'IS', is!" Go peddle used cars somewhere Billy or retire somewhere on a peanut farm.

    June 29, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Luke Brown

    HINT TO THE POLITICALLY NAIVE: This is an anti-incumbent year.

    Let's see: Incumbent appointed Senator with no statewide experience versus tenacious outsider with a good statewide record on issues Dems care about ... that's an easy call.

    Romanoff also has an amazing campaign manger, Bill Romjue, who specializes in pulling off upsets.

    June 29, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. AMZ

    if Clinton is behind Romanoff he will win. Wish he would go around and support nothing but those who are not currently seated and seriously like he cares what the party thinks . Look how they threw Hills under the bus during the election...sorry she shoud be the one sitting in the oval office.

    Sorry I know he was a flawed preisdent but IMO he was the last decent one we had and the last one I could support most of his politics and lets face that is saying something because he made a couple hugh blunders that help to sink us.

    June 29, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |