Former President Bill Clinton believes that President Barack Obama is leading GOP rival Mitt Romney in the critical swing states because his campaign has less money to spend overall so he's focusing it where it will do the most good.
“It’s the only time I can remember when a lot of the national polls are closer than the polls in the so called swing states,” said Clinton, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“That’s because the Obama campaign doesn’t have as much money so they have to concentrate that in the swing states and we’re doing pretty well,” the former president insisted.
Clinton predicted that the Obama campaign will be outspent by as much as two-and-a-half, or 3 to 1 in the final 44 days of the campaign. Obama polls 50 percent among likely voters in three swing states, according to a survey that shows him pulling ahead of Romney in many of the election’s battlegrounds.
“I think assuming the debates are even a draw, I think the president will win but I think you can’t know because of the enormous financial advantage that Citizens United gave to these Republican super PACs and because of the work they have done — and will do on election day to try to reduce the number of young people, first generation immigrants, and minorities — voting,” Clinton said.
He defended President Obama’s handling of the economy when asked by host Bob Schieffer if the high unemployment rate and poor recovery are reason enough to make a switch.
“It is if you believe that we could have been fully healed in four years,” Clinton responded. “I don’t know a single serious economist who believes that as much damage as we had, could have been healed.”
He also insisted that Obama’s approach to the economy is better than Romney’s.
“If they enact $5 trillion more of tax cuts we’ll never get out of this debt hole — and when the interest rates start to rise, as they will when the economy grows —we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” Clinton explained. “So I think that the Obama approach is better. It’s more likely to produce raw . . . prosperity than Romney’s.”
He believes the country needs a 10-year budget plan along with economic growth, spending restraint and “some revenues” to solve the debt crisis.
“If they adopt, both an invest-in-America plan now and a 10-year budget plan then I think it will lead to an economic boom and accelerate economic growth and keep interest rates in bounds,” he said.
Clinton said tax rates such as the one paid by Romney last year aren’t helping the U.S economic recovery.
“I don’t think we can get out of this hole we’re in if people at that income level only pay 13, 14 percent,” Clinton said. “It’d be interesting, I think, for the American people to see how the ordinary income years were treated, but apparently we’re not going to get to see that.”
Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes on $13.7 million of income in 2011 for a 14.1 percent rate, according to tax returns he released last week. The former Massachusetts governor and his wife make most of their income from investing an estimated $250 million fortune, and much of that income is taxed at a top rate of 15 percent, rather than the top rate of 35 percent for wages.
Clinton predicted that a lame-duck session of Congress would be able to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff — when $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years will start and the Bush-era tax cuts will expire — by reaching the “beginnings of a budget deal” or at least setting a time period in which such a deal would be accomplished.
Obama and Democrats propose letting tax cuts expire for top earners.
“I think as soon as this election’s over, the incentives for gridlock will go way down and the incentives for action will go way up,” the former president said.
With respect to the future political plans of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former president said she is “tired” after 20 years as first lady, senator and secretary of state. She lost the Democratic nomination in 2008 to Obama, and some prominent Democrats have urged her to run again.
“She’s tired. She’s really worked hard,” said Clinton. “But she wants to take some time off, kind of regroup, write a book. I hope we’ll be working together.”
He says his wife needs “a chance to organize her life and decide what she wants to do,” but he added that “I have no earthly idea what she’ll decide to do” or if that might include another run for the White House.
He said that his wife demonstrated “extraordinary ability” and “a lot of common sense” both in the Senate and as secretary of state.
“Whatever she does I’m for her first, last and always. She’s the ablest,” said Clinton. “She’ll push a rock up a hill as long as it takes to get it up the hill.”
Bill Clinton's annual philanthropic summit is also underway in New York this week and will attract the new leaders of Egypt and Libya plus both U.S. presidential candidates.
Libya's new head of state, Mohammed Magarief, and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will appear at the eighth Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which Clinton hosts when many world leaders are in town for the annual U.N. meeting.
Both Obama and Romney were set to appear separately on Tuesday. Others on the bill include new Barclays PLC Chief Executive Antony Jenkins and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, among other luminaries.
This year's theme, "Designing for Impact," will focus panel discussions on topics such as providing safe and reliable energy, sustainable tourism, promoting a greater role for women in civics, and "food security," or guaranteeing access to food in the face of extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change.
The idea for the summit came from Clinton's frustration while president from 1993 to 2001 at attending conferences that prompted no action.
When the initiative began, corporations tended to show up and write checks to fund humanitarian programs. Now many see philanthropy in terms of investment opportunities.
“I hope to help people design their philanthropy and pick their partners in a way that gets them better and quicker results,” Clinton said on “Face the Nation.”
Since the initiative started, more than 2,000 pledges have been made valued at more than $69 billion, and they have improved the lives of more than 400 million people in 180 countries, according to Clinton.
The full agenda can be seen at www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/2012
The Associated Press, Bloomberg, and Reuters also contributed to this report.
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