Bill Clinton campaigns for Gov. Corzine

October 20, 2009 4:26:32 PM PDT
Bill Clinton told Democratic activists that their friends and neighbors will support the re-election of Gov. Jon Corzine if they're given a chance to think about the issues. Clinton appeared with Corzine in the second of the governor's three consecutive days of high-profile help in his down-to-the-wire campaign against Republican Chris Christie and independent candidate Chris Daggett.

Vice President Joe Biden came to New Jersey on Monday; President Barack Obama was scheduled to be at a rally Wednesday.

Corzine, speaking in his most fiery voice, introduced Clinton to a crowd of about 1,100 at the Collingswood Ballroom.

"He won in 1992, he won in 1996 and he's going to help somebody win in 2009," Corzine said.

Corzine could use the help. He's been behind in polls for most of the campaign, but has pulled even in the last few weeks. But he's not the one who's been picking up supporters; rather Daggett seems to be taking some support.

With two weeks to go in the campaign, these celebrity endorsers aren't trying to change minds: They're aiming to inspire the Democratic faithful to work hard.

Clinton, standing with Corzine in front of a large American flag, reeled off a list of Corzine's accomplishments: The state has the nation's highest high school graduation rate, more people were added to health insurance rolls last year, and Corzine was behind the first state-level economic stimulus package last year.

"If these were the choices under normal times, this would be a runaway election, wouldn't it?" he said. "The only reason this is an election is people are hurting" because of a bad economy.

That message in consistent with Corzine's overall approach. As an incumbent, he's talking mostly about what he's done rather than unleashing new priorities for a second term.

In a Newsmaker interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Corzine said that his priorities would be getting the state out of the recession, improving education, expanding health coverage and increasing property tax relief.

Clinton, looking at the audience over his reading glasses, told the Democrats in the crowd to talk to their friends and neighbors about the election - but to do it in a thoughtful way.

"You've got to go out there and give people the space to think again," he said in a 16-minute speech.

Clinton was also scheduled to attend a second Corzine rally later Tuesday in New Brunswick.

Meanwhile, Christie was continuing a lower-profile string of campaign stops, meeting with people who say that Corzine's handling of economic and tax issues has hurt them.

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