WASHINGTON • As a senator, Christopher "Kit" Bond worked well with Bill Clinton's White House on a host of issues. He once praised Clinton for signing the Bond-sponsored Family and Medical Leave Act, a significant piece of legislation that George H.W. Bush, Bond's fellow Republican, had vetoed.
But Bond and other Missouri Republicans took issue today with Clinton's assertions at the Democratic National Convention that, regardless of the recycled GOP catchphrase that is sounding, the nation is indeed better off than four years ago when President Barack Obama took office.
In his speech Wednesday night, the former president summed up what he described as the Republicans "pretty simple, pretty snappy" argument against Obama's re-election during the GOP convention. "It went something like this: 'We left him a total mess. He hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in'," Clinton said.
"He inherited a deeply damaged economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy," Clinton said.
Replied Bond: "What he forgets to tell you is that they started off losing 4.3 million jobs. So he's still behind where we were."
Four years ago, America had 33 million people on food stamps; now there are 46 million, Bond said.
Clinton, Bond continued, "berated President (George W.) Bush for running up the debt when President Bush had to respond to the attacks of 9/11 and also had a crash brought about not by Bush's policies but by the sub-prime mortgage crisis which started prior to George Bush and which President Obama as a lawyer took part."
Echoed State Auditor Tom Schweich: "Why did President Obama need to go back to Bill Clinton for validation that we were better off now than four years ago? There's absolutely no credible case that we're better off now than four years ago."
The Missourians' conference call with reporters was part of the message wars underway as Obama prepares to take the stage in Charlotte tonight for an acceptance speech that will mark the end of the parties' two-week stretch of nominating conventions.
Schweich, who was a delegate from St. Louis at the Republican National Convention, said he put little stock in polls showing that Mitt Romney had received little in the way of a polling "bounce" after the Tampa gathering. Nor does Sweich believe that Missouri has shifted from likely Republican in the presidential race to the status of a battleground state.
"I thought the (GOP) convention was a total success. I think we're exactly where we need to be. In fact, Gov. Romney, if you look at polls is in very good position relative to past challengers and incumbents," Schweich said.
"I'm very confident that Romney will win Missouri," he added.
Ed Martin, the GOP candidate for Missouri attorney general, and former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, also offered assessments of the Democratic convention.
Responding to a question, Hanaway said that in focusing heavily on women's issues in Charlotte, "I think Democrats tried to paint women into a box rather than treat women with respect and understand that women care about the issues that Americans care about ... I think the messages that were sent out yesterday were a little bit insulting to women."