By Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau –
WASHINGTON — A month and a half before Election Day, President Barack Obama is winning, former President Bill Clinton said Sunday, citing a raft of recent polls that show Obama widening a lead in several key swing states.
But Clinton said Romney’s money advantage and Republican efforts in states around the country to put more restrictions on voting still threaten Obama’s chances.
“Assuming the debates are even a draw, I think the president will win,” Clinton said CBS’a “Face the Nation.” “But I think you can’t know because of the enormous financial advantage that Citizens United gave to these Republican super PACs and because of the work they have done and will do on Election Day to try to reduce the number of young people, first-generation immigrants, and minorities voting.”
Clinton said Republicans are counting on lower turnout that will match 2010, when Republicans scored major gains in the midterm elections, retaking control of the House and nearly retaking the Senate.
“They have a theory that if … the people who vote in 2012 look more like the 2010 electorate, then the folks that elected the president in the first place in 2008, that if they can get enough of those folks to stay home, they can still win. So that’s why we got to keep working on it.”
Clinton also predicted that if Obama wins, Republicans and Democrats will work together to avert a major budget crisis.
“As soon as this election’s over, the incentives for gridlock will go way down and the incentives for action will go way up,” he said, noting the imperative of acting to avoid tax increases and major cuts in federal spending that threaten the economy.
“It will force them to concentrate and I believe there will be a lame-duck session of Congress in which they will either reach the beginnings of a budget deal or more likely agree to some sort of period of time to avoid the fiscal cliff and make the budget deal then.”
Looking forward to the election after this one, Clinton said he had “no earthly idea” whether his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will run for president in 2016. She already has said she does not intend to serve a second term heading the State Department if Obama is elected.
“She’s tired. She’s really worked hard,” Clinton said. “She wants to take some time off, kind of regroup, write a book.”
“We got a lot of able people in our party who want to be president,” Clinton said. “Got a lot of bright young governors, we’ve got a lot of other people will probably run out of the Congress,” but, he added, Hillary Clinton is “an extraordinarily able person.”
“I just think, you know, it’s a decision she’ll have to make. But whatever she does, I’m for her first, last and always.”