Former President Bill Clinton warned a crowd of about a thousand people at Hancock Airport that he wouldn TMt be giving them a standard political speech and his voice was a little hoarse.
Clinton said the rally to support Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei was the 65th rally he had attended this campaign season and he had been at events in Kentucky and West Virginia earlier on Monday. Clinton also told the crowd it was his 35th wedding anniversary and that he was happy to be in finishing his day in Syracuse, a place he and his wife have enjoyed.
Clinton TMs speech to the crowd focused almost entirely on economic issues and several times he directly attacked the Tea party movement. Clinton said the Tea Party movement represented large special interests. He added that he understood why voters are angry but wanted them to learn more about the issues before voting out Democrats.
The crowd gave Clinton a loud cheer when he referenced the win Syracuse University TMs football win over the weekend. Clinton said politics is a lot like football and you need to study the game film in order to win.
Maffei TMs opponent, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, said the appearance by Clinton was proof that polls showing a tight race were correct. Buerkle also noted that several prominent Republicans have endorsed her.
"Clinton's presence in this campaign is a sure sign that the incumbent is unnerved by the growing voice of the voters who are calling for change by supporting my candidacy, said Buerkle.
More on this story from the Associated Press:
Former President Bill Clinton campaigned Monday in New York for two incumbent House Democrats, the latest sign the party's fortunes are imperiled this election year even in reliably "blue" states.
Clinton address hundreds of supporters in an airport hangar in Syracuse on behalf of freshman Rep. Dan Maffei, who faces a tough challenge from Republican Ann Marie Buerkle. Earlier, the former president stumped for nine-term Rep. Maurice Hinchey in Binghamton.
His voice hoarse and raspy, Clinton told the Syracuse crowd this was the 67th campaign event he'd attended for the 2010 election cycle. He said he understood voters are angry and frustrated over the pace of economic recovery, but that it wasn't a reason to vote out Maffei.
"We're not having a lot of fun with this tea party business," Clinton said, criticizing the vast amount of money Republicans are spending on campaigns thanks to the Supreme Court ruling last winter allowing corporations to spend freely without disclosing their donors.
"The way I was raised, if you're not man enough to take responsibility for what you're saying then you must be ashamed of it," he said.
Clinton also used the occasion to revisit his eight years in the White House, noting that his administration had created 22 million jobs. He said Republicans created a little more than 2 million jobs when they took power and doubled the national debt. "And that was before the meltdown," Clinton said.
The former president praised Maffei's support for the economic stimulus package. He said that when he left the White House after two terms, the budget was balanced and the national debt was on track to be eliminated by 2015. Clinton said Republicans had "repealed arithmetic" and could be counted on to do so again if they assumed control of Congress in November.
Maffei is in a tight race against Buerkle, an anti-abortion activist endorsed by Sarah Palin.
"The national media says a tsunami is coming toward us. But I've faced long odds before," Maffei said.
Buerkle released a statement Monday saying Clinton's visit should remind voters that a Republican Congress kept the government in check under a Democratic president. Republicans assumed control of both the House and Senate in 1994, midway through Clinton's first term, and remained in power until the end of his presidency.
"Mid-1990s Washington produced balanced budgets, welfare reform, and an era of job creation and economic growth," Buerkle said.
Democrats hold all but two of New York's 29 congressional districts, but at least eight are believed to be vulnerable this time. Among the most imperiled are two-term Rep. Michael Arcuri in the 24th district and two-term Rep. John Hall in the 19th.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)