Former President Clinton, noting an “astonishing turnout among evangelical Christians” in this year’s election, warned Tuesday that Democrats “cannot be nationally competitive when we don’t feel comfortable talking about our convictions.”
“I do not believe either party has a monopoly on morality or truth,” Clinton told an audience of more than 4,500 at Hamilton College in upstate New York.
He spoke one week after President Bush won re-election over Democratic Sen. John Kerry and the Republicans bolstered their majorities in the House and Senate.
“I think the current divisions are partly the fault of the people in my party for not engaging the Christian evangelical community in a serious discussion of what it would take to promote a real culture of life,” Clinton said.
While the Kerry loss has left Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a possible front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, both the former president and the former first lady have avoided discussing that in public.
Clinton, in discussing her future, said only: “I’ll do what I can to help Hillary, because I’m really proud of her.”
She is expected to seek re-election to the Senate in 2006.
Harsh words for tax cuts
The former president spent most of his more than one-hour talk looking back at the election and the problems he said still face the nation and the world.
He had harsh words for Bush’s tax cuts in the face of rising national debt that he had successfully reduced while president.
“The current policy has turned me into a raving right-winger on budget stuff,” he said with a laugh.
The former president also discussed how his life changed after his quadruple bypass surgery Sept. 6.
“It made me feel once again overwhelmingly grateful because one more time I got another chance at life. ... It’s a gift. Every day is something I had no right to,” Clinton said.
On Friday, in a speech in New York City, Clinton said the Democratic Party needs to rework its image. He attributed Kerry’s loss to the Democrats’ failure to combat how they were portrayed by Republicans to rural and small-town America.
“If we let people believe that our party doesn’t believe in faith and family, doesn’t believe in work and freedom, that’s our fault,” he said.