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Clinton rallies voters in N.H. on day of debate

 

DURHAM, NH -- Former President Bill Clinton is now citing Mitt Romney's infamous comments about the "47 percent" as proof that the GOP doesn't practice what it preaches.

The former president, who has established himself as one of the chief spokesman for President Barack Obama's campaign, pounced on Romney's surreptitiously-recorded comments while stumping Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Clinton went after Romney for the video, in which the Republican presidential hopeful said nearly half the country wouldn't vote for him because they pay no income taxes and are "dependent" on government.

"A guy with a tax account in Cayman Islands is attacking other people for not wanting to [pay taxes]. I mean, you gotta give him credit, like I said, that's like Congressman Ryan attacking Barack Obama for having the same Medicare savings he did.  When you really bust somebody for doing what you did, it take a lot of gall, you know?" Clinton said to applause.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been in Colorado more than 24 times but many of the state's voters remain undecided – and very concerned about the economy. NBC's Tom Brokaw reports.

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The former president added: "Until this tea party faction took over the Republican Party and strangled it so much that the oxygen stopped running to the brain...until that happened, we had broad bipartisan support for the things that took 61 percent of that 47 percent out from under the income tax because they honored work and family."

Though Clinton made no mention of tonight's debate, he aggressively attacked Republicans and their nominee for being a party of extremists. He said Americans will make a choice in November over whether they want to "celebrate our diversity or to drive a stake through the heart of it."

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The former president also highlighted the parties differences in health care reform, an issue that is expected to be a contentious topic in the Denver debate. Clinton gave minor credit to Romney for passing health care reform as governor of Massachusetts, which he said lowered slightly costs in the Bay State. Clinton said of Romney's attempts to distance himself from the law: "He has renounced the only part of his record that has really worked, that he could be advocating in this election.

Nearly 1,700 gathered to hear the 42nd president, many of them young people.  Clinton tailored his message around to the college-aged crowd, telling students that Republicans will make it more difficult to pay for higher education. He began his speech telling supporters in the swing state that they have a right to vote where they attend school.

"I had six jobs going through law school. Six. I don't need a lecture from them on personal responsibility. But I had a loan too," he said.

Since his high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, Clinton has established himself as one of the president's top surrogates, visiting swing states like Florida and now the Granite State. Today, as both Obama and Romney broke from the campaign trail to prepare for the presidential debate, Clinton rallied for the incumbent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio represented Republicans at an event in Nevada.

Jordan Frasier contributed