Former President Bill Clinton called restrictive voting laws pushed by Republicans in several swing states a “blatant” attempt to change the outcome of the presidential election.
While polls show President Barack Obama opening a lead over Republican Mitt Romney, Clinton said he expects the margin to be close.
“You have to assume it’s going to be a close race,” the Democratic former president said in an interview recorded for CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. “But I think the president has the advantage now.”
There are multiple court battles over voting rules in swing states including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Backers of the restrictions, such as requiring a government-issued identification card with a photo, argue they are needed to combat voting fraud. Opponents say their true purpose is to suppress voting by minorities and lower-income people, who tend to vote Democratic and are less likely to have identification cards such as driver’s licenses.
Obama polled 50 percent among likely voters in three swing states in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll released this week, the latest survey that shows him pulling ahead of Romney in many of the election’s battlegrounds. Nationally, a Pew Research Center showed Obama leading Romney 51 percent to 43 percent among likely voters.
Clinton, 66, also said that a leaked video of Romney speaking to donors in which he says 47 percent of Americans “believe that government has the responsibility to care for them” will increase the stakes of the presidential debate for the Republican.
“It puts a heavier burden on him in the debates, to talk about what he meant,” Clinton said. He rejected the idea that the debate is about “government versus the private sector.”
“If you had a government-centered economy, it would fail,” he said. “Market economics works better. But it works better when there are limits on destruction, like requiring banks to have a certain amount of capital, and it works better when people are empowered to succeed in it through education programs and training programs and having a decent health care system.”
CNN released a transcript of the program, which is scheduled for broadcast Sept. 23.