updated 10/13/2006 9:39:26 AM ET 2006-10-13T13:39:26

The nation has been "jammed into an ideological corner" by conservative Republicans and is primed for a power shift in the November elections, former President Bill Clinton said Thursday.

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"This is an election unlike any other I have ever participated in," Clinton told Democratic supporters at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. "For six years this country has been totally dominated - not by the Republican Party, this is not fair to the Republican Party - by a narrow sliver of the Republican Party, its more right-wing and its most ideological element."

"When the chips are down, this country has been jammed to the right, jammed into an ideological corner, alienated from its allies, and we're in a lot of trouble," he said.

On the campaign trail
Clinton addressed a group of about 50 top-level donors to the Jack Carter for Senate campaign. Carter, the son of former President Jimmy Carter, is running to unseat Republican Sen. John Ensign.

Clinton also attended a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates Jill Derby and Tessa Hafen at which the minimum contribution was $3,000.

He appeared onstage with Hafen, Derby, Carter and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., but did not take questions from the media or comment on recent criticism of his administration's policy on nuclear nonproliferation in North Korea. 2006 key races

The former president largely stuck to politics.

"The Democratic Party has become the liberal and conservative party in America. If you want to be fiscally conservative, you've got to be for us. If you want to conserve natural resources, you've got to be for us," he said. "If you want a change of course in Iraq ... you've got to be for us."

Clinton also attacked Republican tax cuts, describing a repeal of the estate tax as the GOP's top legislative priority.

"They may think I should be able to give Chelsea every nickel, but I don't," Clinton said.

Republican response
Tucker Bounds, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, returned the criticism.

"It's going to take more than a Bill Clinton stopover to change the minds of the majority of Nevadans," he said.

"Republicans have solid candidates on the ballot that are going to keep taxes low and continue to fight terrorism," Bounds said. He said the party had not fallen out of step with voters.

"Keeping taxes low and the economy healthy is not a fringe belief. It is a popular belief in Nevada and a popular belief in most every other state."

Clinton did not mention Rep. Jon Porter, Hafen's opponent, or Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller, Derby's opponent, by name. He dismissed Ensign as "a sort of a likable fellow" with "good relations with most of the powers-that-be here in the state," perhaps a reference to Ensign's working relationship with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Immigration concerns
Clinton, who recently made fundraising stops for Democrats in Minnesota and New Jersey, also said he was embarrassed by the recent immigration debate.

He noted that Mexico had become one of the U.S.'s top 10 creditors.

"These people are our bankers," Clinton said. "Doesn't it embarrass you that these poor people are trying to sneak over the Rio Grande River to find a living in this country and we want to stop that? But we're only too happy to turn around and say, 'Don't spend your own money on those poor illegal immigrants to give them an education and get a job in Mexico. Loan it to us.'"

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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