Democrats Counting on Bill Clinton to Bring Out Base in Southern States

Democrats Counting on Bill Clinton to Bring Out Base in Southern States

Former President Bill Clinton appeared with Georgia Democratic Senate nominee Michelle Nunn on Friday, calling a vote for the former Senator’s daughter a “progress vote” while saying a vote for her opponent, Republican nominee David Perdue, is a “protest vote.” 

“They’re saying, this is your last chance to vote against the guy,” said Clinton, who previously made a stop in North Carolina for Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). “We’ve seen this movie a thousand times before–those of us who are above a certain age.”

Democrats believe Clinton brings the best of both worlds to southern states like North Carolina and Georgia, claiming he will not “alienate white voters” while bringing out black voters. But Republicans aren’t impressed by the former president’s pit stops in conservative-leaning states.

One GOP insider argues that Clinton was brought to Georgia to energize strictly “Clinton Democrats and African Americans.” If he was brought to Georgia to energize the white working class, he would not have given his speech in Atlanta at a civil rights-centric diner with former D.C. mayor and now Councilman Marion Barry, the insider said. 

“They are not meeting their goals for African American votes. They’re down about two percentage points for African American turnout from 2012, and it’s basically about even with what it was in 2010 for early votes, because they need it to be at least 30 percent African American turnout and that’s not the way it’s trending right now,” said the Republican insider.

Georgia GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney calls the Democratic ballot a “legacy ticket,” recalling that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called it “That 70’s Show.”

“The only way to get the left fired up is by bringing in celebrities that are of that ilk. Hillary Clinton was here two or three weeks ago. We have had Bill Clinton, Usher. Two days ago it was Ed Helms from The Hangover,” he said. 

“So when they’re out talking, they are not throwing the proverbial red meat to the left. They can’t. They can’t win that way, so the only way they can win is by bringing out as many celebrities to rally the base as possible and people start to forget that Bill Clinton isn’t on the ballot or Hillary Clinton isn’t on the ballot. That’s part of the strategy and I think you see that in other states.”

Who does Bill Clinton bring out?

“You could poll that and see that his favorables are all over the place with different people groups, but I think at the end of the day it’s to get a media story and to fundraise. It gets their candidate’s name in the paper and raises lots money. It’s all about being able to raise the funds and raise the profile,” said Mahoney.

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer agrees with Mahoney.

“I think surrogates can do a lot to rally pieces of a candidate’s base, but at the end of the day, what are surrogates really doing? Motivating your activists to go out and do stuff,” he said. “To that extent Clinton is a popular guy, but they’re voting for Michelle Nunnn or David Perdue.”