Former President Bill Clinton blamed his successor, George W. Bush, for putting the nation in a deep hole and urged Democrats Tuesday to give Sen. Harry Reid more time to patch up the economy.
"You and I know the only reason this is a tough race is because this is a tough time," Clinton said during a get-out-the-vote rally at a Las Vegas high school.
Reid is in a tight race with Republican Sharron Angle. She's a tea party favorite who said she has raised more than $14 million since July, a whooping amount that could gave her an advantage in the final days of the campaign. She has already used some of her war chest to pummel Reid on illegal immigration and job creation in a series of searing attack ads.
In a return visit to Las Vegas to stump for Reid, Clinton acknowledged he was preaching to like-minded supporters, but warned the crowd of more than 1000 Democrats that Angle would win if they didn't urge their friends and neighbors to vote. The crowd booed at any mention of Angle's name.
Clinton and Reid both focused on the struggling economy in Nevada, where foreclosures and unemployment have hit record levels.
"The number one issue on my mind, your mind, is the economy," Reid said. "We all wish things were better."
Angle has blamed Reid for discouraging businesses with government regulations and higher taxes.
Clinton said Angle and Republicans would repeal federal student loans and stall green energy programs.
"If you care about jobs, you have to vote for Harry Reid," Clinton said.
Clinton said he, not Republicans, practiced fiscal conservatism and balanced the federal budget.
"I almost gag every time I hear them talk about, 'I want to balance the budget,'" Clinton said. "They didn't give a rip about the deficit until we had a Democratic president."
Reid sat on stage and laughed at each of Clinton's jabs at the GOP.
Clinton said he was flabbergasted by Angle's popularity and asked how anyone could vote for someone who thinks autism "is some kind of flaky, made-up deal."
Angle has said autism is a serious condition, but Democrats won't let her live down a video of her using air quotes as she says the word.
Nevada's early voting starts Saturday, and Republicans and Democrats are both eager to lock down voters before the Nov. 2 election. Angle is hosting a voter outreach party Friday.
Republicans wrote off Clinton's visit as an act of desperation.
"Other than a nice photo-op, it won't change the fact that Senator Reid's failed policies have made Nevada the leader in unemployment and the foreclosure capital of the country," said Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Nevada Republican Party. "With the election a mere three weeks away, voters are anxiously awaiting their opportunity to replace Harry Reid with Sharron Angle."
Angle and Reid are locked in a nasty battle with no limits.
She has falsely accused him of giving child molesters Viagra and supporting special tax breaks for illegal immigrants.
In a recent radio ad, Reid called Angle a hypocrite who has bashed government programs while benefiting from her husband's federal pension.
Clinton told more than 700 supporters at a Las Vegas rally in June that he didn't understand why Reid's seat was in jeopardy given his national influence.
Clinton also rallied last month for Rory Reid, Harry Reid's son and Nevada's Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
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