NASHUA, N.H. – Former President Bill Clinton returned to New Hampshire, the state that gave his presidential campaign new life in 1992, hoping his star power can do the same for Democrats on Tuesday.
Clinton campaigned Sunday for Gov. John Lynch, a three-term Democrat facing his toughest election since 2004. The former president urged Democrats to get out and vote.
"I'm pleading with you," he said, "Give John Lynch a massive victory."
Clinton delivered a 40-minute political pep talk to a few hundred people at Nashua Community College. He boasted of his work in balancing the budget in the 1990s. He warned his supporters to watch for "smoke and mirrors" from Republicans who claim to be fiscal conservatives.
Republicans in Washington are responsible for the recession, and President Barack Obama deserves more time to fix an economy they broke, Clinton said.
He said Democrats were being good stewards of Wall Street financial changes, access to health care, and the economic recovery.
"This is about the future of our country," he said.
Clinton also praised Democrat Ann McLane Kuster, who is running for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District against Republican Charlie Bass, as an advocate for the middle class.
Democrats said the rally was a counterpoint to what political observers have called an "enthusiasm gap" in the Democratic Party.
"Pundits make projections but voters make decisions," said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who is not up for re-election Tuesday.
Lynch said his Republican opponent, former commissioner of state Health and Human Services John Stephen, would cut the state budget so deeply that it would erode critical government services and result in higher property taxes.
Clinton said Lynch's leadership contributed to New Hampshire regularly earning the distinction of being one of the most livable states in the country. He cited the state's unemployment rate, at 5.5 percent the lowest in the region.
He then attacked Stephen, calling him a longtime bureaucrat who lacked the governor's business expertise.
In a statement, the New Hampshire Republican Party said the Clinton visit showed Lynch's partisanship and his belief in tax-and-spend policies. Though Lynch contends he has balanced the state budget, Republicans argue the state faces a huge shortfall in the next budget.
The campaign visit to Nashua, New Hampshire's second-largest city, came as the Nashua Telegraph endorsed Republican Kelly Ayotte for U.S. Senate. Democrat Paul Hodes, who trails in the U.S. Senate polls, was campaigning in eastern New Hampshire.