Former president Bill Clinton told undecided Arkansans to ignore what he called the "bull issues" of gay marriage and gun rights, urging them Sunday to vote for Sen. John Kerry to give him the state's six electoral votes on Tuesday.
For an appearance centered on Kerry's homeland security plan and the Democratic Party's get-out-the-vote effort, Clinton returned to his home state, hoping to boost Kerry's chance of picking up electoral votes in the Bible Belt. "We want you to work for this election. We want you to bring it home. It's not too late," Clinton said. "You go back and find somebody you know who's not for Senator Kerry and you tell them what I told you about security tonight."
Less than two months after quadruple heart bypass surgery, Clinton appeared with actor Danny Glover and Arkansas's top Democrats behind him before an already faithful crowd estimated at more than 4,500. Wearing blue jeans and a blazer over an open-necked red shirt and standing amid pumpkins, mums, and bales of hay, Clinton and others told the gathered Democrats to take his plea for a big turnout to the state's four corners.
But Republican governor Mike Huckabee, who heads President Bush's reelection effort in the state, said that while Clinton is a great campaigner, the former president would have a hard time selling Kerry to most Arkansans. "John Kerry is going to be sold by the greatest political salesman the Democrats have, but no matter what the marketing, the soap is still the same and it just won't wash here in Arkansas," Huckabee said before Clinton's address. "Even conservative Democrats are willing to support a favorite son, but not an extreme Massachusetts liberal whose positions on guns, same-sex marriage, abortion, and taxes are dramatically different from the people of our state."
Clinton downplayed the significance of gay marriage and gun rights discussions--calling them "bull issues"--and said voters needed to concentrate on more important issues such as support and expansion of the armed forces and improved national security.
In a shot at Bush, the former president mocked the current president's past remarks about the presidency being a tough job. To go from a $5.6 trillion budget surplus to a projected record $413 billion deficit, "it is hard work," Clinton said.