By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Former President Bill Clinton endorsed U.S. Senate Democratic primary challenger Andrew Romanoff yesterday, marking the underdog’s biggest and most surprising endorsement.
In a race where opponent Michael Bennet has the backing of the White House, the Clinton endorsement is being viewed as a major boost to Romanoff’s campaign. The former Colorado House Speaker told the Denver Daily News yesterday that he was “honored” to accept the endorsement. He said it’s all part of his recent “Romentum,” adding that the Clinton endorsement will only accelerate that momentum.
Romanoff points out that he has won the state caucuses, county assemblies and state convention, each time adding to his margin of victory.
“The trajectory, from our perspective, is in the right direction,” he said yesterday following the endorsement. “In the last four or five weeks since we won the state assembly, we’ve picked up more supporters, more donors, and more volunteers than ever before. I expect the Clinton decision today will accelerate our momentum.”
But Romanoff trails Bennet 36 percent to 53 percent for the Aug. 10 primary, according to a SurveyUSA poll commissioned by the Denver Post taken earlier this month.
Bennet was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat left by Ken Salazar when he was appointed by President Obama to serve as the nation’s Interior Secretary.
Bennet has enjoyed the support of the White House, with Obama himself making an early primary campaign appearance in Denver last spring to raise money for the Bennet campaign. The White House has even acknowledged offering Romanoff a job in exchange for not running against Bennet.
Bennet’s campaign seemed less than concerned yesterday over the Clinton endorsement, suggesting that the endorsement was only given because Romanoff had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. Bennet had endorsed Obama at the time.
“The Clintons are known for their loyalty, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise,” read a statement from the Bennet campaign. “Michael certainly doesn’t begrudge President Clinton the chance to thank a long time friend.”
A Clinton aide told the Denver Daily News yesterday that he does not expect the former president to be doing much campaigning for Romanoff, if any at all. Clinton’s office said the e-mail endorsement from the former president should explain why he endorsed Romanoff. One reason cited is a long-term relationship dating back to 1992 when Clinton first met Romanoff when he was a student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
“I was proud to carry Colorado in 1992, but you should be even prouder of what Andrew Romanoff did to turn the state blue,” Clinton said in his e-mail endorsement asking for donations. “He worked harder than anyone in Colorado to put Democrats in positions of power Ń and to use that power to benefit every single citizen.”
“Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff’s leadership. America will be too,” continued Clinton. “As a senator, Andrew Romanoff will continue to stand up to special interests and fight for working families. We need Andrew’s leadership in Washington — especially now, when so many Americans are losing so much.”
Clinton also cites a remark by Romanoff that, “It is not enough to put a president of real talent and vision and leadership in the White House if the same qualities are not matched at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Romanoff said he wants to bring that leadership to the U.S. Senate.
“President Obama, President Clinton are leaders of courage and vision and talent, but the Senate of the United States has become the place where a lot of these good ideas go to die,” he said.
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The Denver Post: Former President Bill Clinton bucked the Obama administration Tuesday and endorsed former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, calling Colorado a better place because of his leadership in the legislature. In his first endorsement this year of a Senate primary challenger, Clinton wrote a letter outlining his support for Romanoff over appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.