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Frank Caprio does not tell former President Clinton to 'shove it'

Clinton stumps for Caprio at an event Sunday, where the Democratic candidate for Rhode Island governor alludes obliquely to his earlier message to President Obama. Clinton alludes to his busy schedule in a 'fact-free election.'

October 31, 2010|By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Former President Clinton continued a marathon series of campaign appearances on Sunday, appearing in Rhode Island in support of the Democratic candidate for governor, who was snubbed earlier in the week by President Obama.

Before Obama's trip to the state Monday, the White House confirmed that he would remain neutral in the race, which pits Frank Caprio, the state treasurer; independent candidate Lincoln Chafee; and Republican John Robitaille.

Chafee, a former Republican, had endorsed Obama in 2008, and the president now seemed to be repaying that debt with a non-endorsement of the Democrat, despite the fact that the party has not held the governor's office since 1995.

Caprio responded by sternly saying Obama could take his endorsement and "shove it." Polls released since then indicate he narrowly trailed Chafee.

Sunday, Caprio alluded to the controversy as he introduced Clinton.

"Last week, I got knocked down a little bit, just like many of you have been knocked down through your life," he said. "But here in Rhode Island, we don't mind getting knocked down. You know why? Because we get right back up."

Clinton made no mention of the week's events but did note that this was the second time he had come to support Caprio's campaign. He also said Sunday's event was the 125th he'd done for about 85 different Democratic candidates.

"I didn't mean to do this," Clinton said, claiming his original intention was simply to help Democrats who had supported his wife's presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton is precluded from political activity in her role as secretary of State.

"The thing that's bothered me is, this is the most fact-free election I have been involved with in my life," he continued.

Clinton also offered that there's one endorsement the Democrat should have earned: the tea party's. Caprio's stewardship of the treasurer's office, he argued, showed great fiscal restraint.

Earlier Sunday, the former president campaigned for Democrats in Maine and New Hampshire. His schedule for Monday, the final day of the campaign, is set to begin in New York at 7 a.m. -- six events in five states by day's end.

The final event is in Orlando with Kendrick Meek, the Senate candidate who just weeks earlier discussed with Clinton the possibility of ending his campaign and backing independent candidate Charlie Crist. After the story broke, Clinton said in a statement that he "didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would."

mmemoli@tribune.com

twitter.com/mikememoli

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