In more forceful terms, the former president decried what would happen if Obama did not defeat his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in November.
“The alternative would be, in my opinion, calamitous for our country and the world,” Clinton said, speaking in a room lined with ornately framed oil paintings, including two that appeared to be works by the impressionist Edgar Degas. “Their economics are wrong-headed, and their politics are worse.”
Clinton has strong ties to wealthy New York donors, including those in the financial services sector, where some are disappointed in Obama
’s attacks on Romney’s record as a private-equity manager at Bain Capital.
Although Clinton tweaked the president just a few days ago for going after Romney’s business record, his connections to the financial industry could help Obama at a bumpy moment in his campaign. One of the former president’s legacies is his success in blending the traditional populism of the Democratic Party with a pro-business message.
Obama may want to use that legacy to help overcome dissatisfaction with his critiques of Bain — and with his stewardship of an economy about which business leaders and other voters remain pessimistic. In his remarks at the Lasry home, the president defended his view that government intervention in private enterprise is necessary, but he also asserted, in bolder terms than usual, that the market “is the best generator of wealth” and that “America’s business is business.”
“Government is not the ultimate source of our wealth and our freedom,” Obama said. But, he added, there are “certain investments we have to make to create a platform of opportunity for everyone.”
Making his case became a bit harder Friday, when employment numbers showed an uptick in the unemployment rate and a dramatic drop, to 69,000, in the number of new jobs in May. Derailing months of more robust job growth, the figures could undermine national confidence that Obama has pursued the right policies to stimulate a lasting economic recovery.
One of Clinton’s themes Monday was that Romney’s prescriptions would be worse.
“The Republican Congress and their nominee for president, Governor Romney, have adopted Europe’s economic policies,” he said. “Their economic policy is austerity and unemployment now, and then a long-term budget that would explode the debt when the economy recovers so the interest rates would be so high, nobody would be able to do anything.”