QUAKERTOWN, Pa. -- Older voters gravitate to Hillary Clinton because they're too wise to be fooled by Barack Obama's rhetoric, former president Bill Clinton told Pennsylvania voters today.
Clinton's comments, to a packed high school gym about an hour north of Philadelphia, were one part presidential politics and one part legacy protection. His beef was with Obama's contention that many of the problems facing the country today were simmering long before President Bush took office seven-plus years ago.
"I think there is a big reason there's an age difference in a lot of these polls," he said. "Because once you've reached a certain age, you won't sit there and listen to somebody tell you there's really no difference between what happened in the Bush years and the Clinton years; that there's not much difference in how small-town Pennsylvania fared when I was president, and in this decade."
"So I think it's important that we get to the truth of this," Clinton continued, going on to compare his and Bush's record on jobs, family incomes, and other measures.
Last week, however, Clinton seemed to suggest that older voters might be more absent-minded than wise. Defending Hillary Clinton's faulty recollection of landing under sniper fire during a 1996 humanitarian visit to Bosnia, the former president said of her critics, "When they're 60, they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 o'clock at night, too."
At various points in his nearly hour-long appearance at Quakertown Community High School, Clinton cautioned the hundreds gathered to hear him against voting on history. (His defense of his White House record notwithstanding, of course.) Despite press coverage about how historic a campaign this is, Clinton said, "the history doesn't amount to a hill of beans. All that matters is the future. Who will make the best future for you?"
And later, after he had run through, in great detail, the ins and outs of America's foreign and domestic policy challenges, Clinton returned to the theme of substance versus abstraction. Hillary Clinton, he said, would be a "servant leader," and voters had to decide whether that was more important than electing a "symbolic leader." "You gotta decide," he said, as if he had laid out even arguments for each.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.