With Barack Obama’s popularity plummeting to the point where a visit does more damage to Democrats than Republicans, incumbent Democrats have increasingly turned to Bill Clinton to rescue them from their own electoral woes. The former President, whose personal popularity remains as high or higher than when he was in the White House, has turned up in House districts where Democrats have rarely needed any help at all, or even much campaigning. Clinton arrived in Massachusetts’ 4th CD to rescue Barney Frank from Sean Bielat a couple of weeks ago, although it’s unclear whether it had much impact on the race. Now Clinton will stump for Maurice Hinchey in NY-22, a move that has George Phillips’ campaign proudly proclaiming its success in challenging the nine-term Representative:
While President Bill Clinton’s anticipated visit Monday is billed as a rally for U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, the veteran congressman’s Republican challenger thinks it’s more of a desperate measure.
“The recent announcement that the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) will be dispatching President Clinton to Binghamton in an attempt to shore up Maurice Hinchey’s sagging support is exciting indeed, particularly for George Phillips. For a campaign such as Mr. Hinchey’s, which constantly claims to be in a ‘safe race’ this year, you really have to ask yourself one question. Why would the Democrats be sending out the big guns if their candidate wasn’t in trouble?” read a statement from Phillips’ campaign.
Clinton is expected at 7 p.m. Monday at the Holiday Inn-Arena. It’s the second time the former president has stumped for Hinchey and it isn’t an idea dreamed up by the DCCC, said Hinchey spokesman Mike Morosi.
“George Phillips has once again overstated his case to the point of being factually inaccurate,” he said. “We are pleased he (Clinton) has decided to stop in Binghamton to make the case to voters about the choice they face in this election.”
It’s three weeks before the election. Had this been an event in June, it wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows. Clinton lives in New York City and this is not a long jaunt, relatively speaking to his other campaigning. But with three weeks to go before the midterm elections, it speaks volumes that the Democrats have their most popular national figure on the stump in NY-22 playing defense in a D+6 district that supposedly will deliver an easy win for its incumbent. There is a big opportunity cost in locking Clinton into upstate New York with just 22 days left to campaign for other Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Gannett report says that Clinton will speak about Hinchey’s fight for “middle-class families” and Hinchey’s policies in general. The press may want to ask Clinton if he endorses Hinchey’s publicly-proclaimed positions, such as:
- Karl Rove planted the Bush TANG memos on CBS
- The government should nationalize the oil industry
- Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine
- Hinchey’s refusal to address his earmarks that benefited his business partners
- Hinchey’s refusal to discuss his policy positions at all
Clinton’s arrival may not help all that much, anyway. He will be talking at almost the same time that the New York Jets play the Minnesota Vikings tonight on Monday Night Football. While Clinton remains popular, the only people who will skip the game will likely be those whom Hinchey has already convinced to support him.