Republicans to Obama: You're no Clinton
06 September 2012, 08:45
Washington - US Republicans seized upon Bill Clinton's planned speech to the Democratic convention on Wednesday to mock President Barack Obama as an unworthy heir to the job-creating, surplus-boosting former leader.
After the convention's opening night, when Democrats launched a co-ordinated character assassination on Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee's campaign hit back by hammering Obama's "failed ideology and poor stewardship".
Romney has stayed above the fray this week, opting to huddle with aides in rural Vermont and prepare for his three October debates with Obama.
But with buzz building about a speech by the popular Clinton - due on stage later on Wednesday - Romney unleashed supporters to highlight differences between the two Democratic presidents and undermine Obama's claim on a second term.
John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor who has served as Romney's attack dog, said Clinton's "blast from the past" appearance may well "induce nostalgia for the days of balanced budgets and bipartisan accomplishments".
But, while Obama will seek to "borrow credibility from the nation's 42nd president, the contrast between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama - particularly when it comes to economic and fiscal issues - couldn't be greater", he wrote.
"In ushering in new levels of fiscal recklessness, President Obama doesn't simply depart from the Clinton legacy - he shatters it with a sledgehammer and runs over it with a steamroller," he said, in the Manchester Union Leader.
Clinton's 1993 to 2001 administration it credited with creating 22 million jobs, runaway economic growth, and the largest-ever government surplus. In 1996 he famously said "the era of big government is over".
Sununu pointed to Obama's "dramatic" expansion of government and the addition of $5 trillion to the national debt, results of policies that promoted "uncontrolled spending" and "unlimited taxation".
"This course is not sustainable, and we know from President Obama's first term that it will not work," Sununu wrote.
As Democrats opened their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Republicans countered by asking the standard refrain of US campaign politics: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
"What you did not hear is that people are better off than they were four years ago," Romney's running mate Paul Ryan told Fox News on Wednesday. "What you did hear were simply attacks against their opponents."
The Wall Street Journal pointed out how Clinton's tax hikes and failed government takeover of healthcare led to a poor economic showing in his first two years, only to see Clinton move "sharply to the political middle".
"Bill Clinton learned from the mistakes of his first two years," according to a Journal editorial. "Mr Obama has doubled down on his - and, on all available evidence, he will double down again if he's re-elected."