ORLANDO, Fla. – Former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday painted Republicans as a party controlled by its most extreme members, unwilling to compromise and too conservative for former GOP leaders like Richard Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower – Richard Nixon’s too liberal for these people. It’s amazing," Clinton told the 2,000 people packed into a hotel ballroom here. He said the most right-wing members of the GOP control the party's nominations and "political operations."
Clinton has spent the past two days campaigning for President Barack Obama in Florida. The tour comes a week after he delivered a well-received speech at the Democratic National Convention in which he laid out the case for the president's re-election.
His stops here and Miami were largely an extension of those arguments.
"The American people have to believe me on this; I have traveled all over the world, not just when I was president, but since I left,” Clinton said. “I work everywhere. I'm telling you what works; what works is cooperation. What fails is constant conflict. You've got to vote for cooperation."
He did not mention the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, which took four lives and were condemned by top U.S. officials. He stayed away from foreign policy, continuing to focus on the economy, and making the case that America is better off now than when Obama took office nearly four years ago.
"I want to say again something I said in Charlotte, because the whole election could come down to this. I honestly believe – it doesn't matter who caused it or whether the contributing factors all happened under President Bush or something I did or something Ronald Reagan did 30 years ago." he said. "Regardless, President Obama didn't cause it ... but if he just kept telling us that and not done anything, we'd still have to replace him, because we hired him to take the job and you don’t get to pick only the good and not the bad. So he took it on."
Clinton said calls for austerity measures and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are irresponsible given the country's slow economic growth.
"I was always taught, when you're in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging," he said.
Clinton's biggest applause lines during his Florida tour have been criticizing Republicans for their inaccurate arithmetic and saying that hypocritical attacks against the president take “real brass."
Tying up his speech, Clinton urged the crowd to choose "arithmetic over illusion."