Clinton, Obama Pounce On GOP Policies At Fundraisers

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama tag-teamed in their criticism of Republicans on Monday night, taking swipes at the GOP and its presidential nominee in a round of New York City fundraisers.

"What the other side is counting on is fear and frustration," Obama said to an audience of donors, arguing that Republicans are not offering any ideas of their own.

"All they're offering is the same old ideas that didn't work then, and won't work now," he added.

His comments came at an event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, featuring a performance by musician Jon Bon Jovi. Tickets started at $2,500 for the 500 guests.

Saying he was more determined than he was in his 2008 presidential run, Obama faulted his Republican rivals for their economic policies, saying the party is too eager to throw "sand in the gears" in Congress and would "take us back to the exact same policies that got us into this mess in the first place."

Clinton's remarks earlier in the evening shared those sentiments. Speaking on the same stage, Clinton blasted Mitt Romney for pushing policies that favor large spending cuts over tax increases, saying the presumptive GOP nominee's plan harkens back to policies from President George W. Bush's administration - "except on steroids."

At a different fundraising event earlier in the night, Clinton took his comments further, saying a win for the Republican in November would be "calamitous for our country and the world."

Clinton's speech came just days after he sparked a backlash among Democrats for complimenting Romney's "sterling" private equity career.

On Friday, the former president said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" that Romney "crosses the qualification threshold" with his background in business and public service as Massachusetts governor, comments that fell out of line with Democratic messaging.

But on Monday, Clinton said Romney and Republicans are pursuing an economic agenda that would lead the country to the conditions now faced by Europe.

"(Republicans') 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," Clinton said, according to pool notes from a print reporter in the room.

Obama, unlike Republicans, would promote job creation and long-term budget restraint, Clinton said.
"The politics is wrong on the Republican side, the economics are crazy," the former president added.

The event was held at the Manhattan home of Marc Lasry, billionaire founder of Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund. Between 40 and 50 people attended, with tickets at $40,000 each, according to a campaign official.

Offering some praise for Obama, Clinton said the president "has good politics, he's got a good record, he's made the best of a very challenging situation" and "deserves to be re-elected."

Later in the evening, at the Waldorf, Clinton boosted his praise of Obama, saying: "It is essential to re-elect the president if we want this country to have the kind of future that our children and grandchildren deserve."

In his own remarks, Obama credited the former president with leading a strong economy in the '90s, arguing the country fared well under Clinton because he "understood what it takes for this economy."

"Nobody has a better grasp and understanding of the issues than this man," Obama said.

The president also weighed in on what he sees as a drastic change in the Republican Party over the years in terms of economic policy.

"They have run from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism when it comes to the marketplace. A belief that all regulations are bad. That government has no role to play," Obama said.

Later, the presidential pair made a third fundraising appearance in New York on Monday night. They attended a concert at The New Amsterdam Theater for an audience of 1,700 people.

While the president mostly repeated earlier comments from the night, he slipped up at one point, referring to Mitt Romney as "George Romney," Mitt's late father who served as Michigan governor and made a presidential bid in 1968.

"Wrong guy," Obama said to a laughing audience.

Among the guests slated to perform at the event were Neil Patrick Harris, Meagn Hilty, Cheyenne Jackson, James Earl Jones, Tony Kushner, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, and Jeffrey Wright. Tickets for the event started at $250 per person.

Three contest winners and their guests were also in attendance at the gala and concert and were set to meet privately with Obama and Clinton.

Proceeds from Monday's events benefit the Obama Victory fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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