Bill Clinton's Global Initiative features both Romney, Obama
BY KASIE HUNT & JOSH LEDERMAN Associated Press
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
9/26/12 at 6:38 AM
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NEW YORK - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney is unlikely to win Bill Clinton's vote, but that doesn't mean he can't soak up a bit of the popular former president's luster.
The two men stood side by side Tuesday as Clinton introduced Romney before the GOP candidate's speech to Clinton's Global Initiative Conference in New York. President Barack Obama later took the same stage to address human trafficking.
Clinton recalled working with Romney to save AmeriCorps, and praised the former Massachusetts governor's efforts to persuade fellow Republicans to support the national service program.
Romney, taking the podium, returned the compliment.
"If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good," he said, prompting loud laughter and applause from the crowd.
It was a clear nod to Clinton's speech praising Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month, and the slight uptick in the polls that Obama enjoyed soon after.
"All I got to do now is wait a few days for that bounce to happen," Romney quipped.
Such moments of bipartisan levity have been rare in a campaign marked by harsh accusations, heavy-handed rhetoric and relentless attack ads between the presidential campaigns and the outside groups that support them.
But any resentment was noticeably absent Tuesday as Clinton and Romney appeared chummy, patting each other on the shoulder and chatting onstage after Romney's speech.
"That was good," Clinton told the man hoping to dislodge Clinton's party from the White House.
In his speech, Romney said "Many Americans are troubled by the developments in the Middle East. "Syria has witnessed the killings of tens of thousands of people. The president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. ... And Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability.
"We feel that we are at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events," he added, although he did not overtly criticize Obama's foreign policy, as he did on Monday.
Romney also said if he is elected, he will create "prosperity pacts" in the Middle East, private-public partnerships designed to remove barriers to free markets around the region. He said developing countries would receive U.S. assistance "focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law and property rights."
Before the speech, Romney spoke backstage with Clinton and Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, said Romney spokesman Rick Gorka. He declined to say what they discussed.
Clinton has an outsized influence on the presidential election more than a decade after he left office. Both Obama and Romney have pointed to Clinton's economic leadership as an example for the nation, citing prosperity and a federal budget that was balanced under his leadership.
Clinton is using the full weight of those credentials to boost Obama's bid. In his convention speech, he systematically rebutted Romney's attacks on Obama, accusing the Republican of pushing an economic plan that doesn't add up.
The Obama-Clinton political alliance was back on display a few hours later Tuesday when the two Democrats shared a handshake and a hug on the same stage where Romney had spoken earlier in the day.
Normal protocol, Clinton said, would require him to simply introduce the president and then be quiet.
"I just want to make one comment. I'm going to finish that speech I started in Charlotte," he said, poking fun at himself over a sermon that at times seemed like it might never end.
In his speech Tuesday, Obama called human trafficking nothing more than "modern slavery," outlining new steps to combat the exploitation of workers and children in the United States and abroad.
Obama said that he was not using the term of "slavery" lightly, noting that it evoked a painful past for America. But he said the U.S. and international community need to step up efforts to help more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the globe, calling it an "injustice" and an "outrage."
Human trafficking, Obama said, "must be called by its true name: modern slavery."
Obama used the speech to rally a renewed global commitment to ending the exploitation of workers and children. He said teams were dismantling networks of human traffickers and putting the culprits behind bars.
The White House issued new executive orders strengthening prohibitions against human trafficking in government contracting, making it apply to all federal contractors and subcontractors.
The new rules also require compliance for large overseas contracts and subcontracts. The administration also said it was providing more training on human trafficking to federal prosecutors, law enforcement officials, immigration judges and others.
Original Print Headline: Bill Clinton still packs political clout
Former President Bill Clinton appears with presidential nominee Mitt Romney. MARK LENNIHAN / Associated Press
Former President Bill Clinton appears with with President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. MARK LENNIHAN / Associated Press