christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Former Pres. Clinton shakes hands on his way in to give a speech for Gov. Malloy at the Omni in New Haven on Tuesday (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Former President Bill Clinton told a friendly crowd of party loyalists Tuesday that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy should be elected by 10 points or more based on what he’s been able to accomplish.

That’s the message Clinton told a half-full ballroom of supporters at the Omni Hotel in New Haven. He also said that they have to get their family and friends on board.

Clinton also acknowledged that Malloy’s rematch against Republican Tom Foley will by all accounts be a tight race.

“We all say we want somebody who is going to be a leader,” Clinton said. “To make the hard decisions when times are hard. We want somebody who won’t look at the polls, but look toward the future and think about what’s good for the children.”

He said that by those tests, Malloy has more than earned another four years as governor.

But Foley would have his supporters believe that the state is worse off than four years ago and the rate of economic recovery is part of the reason.

“This is a guy who prays for rain on a sunny day,” Malloy said of his opponent. “Connecticut is a great state. We’re going to prove that on election day.”

Clinton said Malloy should not be faulted for laying out a strategy and taking action to implement it.

He said Malloy told the truth about what he would need to do to close a historic $3.67 billion budget deficit in 2011. He said Malloy was honest about the budget and told the people of Connecticut in 2010 that “if you think I can fix this without any pain then you need to hire somebody else.”

“By 6,400 votes the people of Connecticut said ‘thank you for telling us the truth, plus go do the hard thing’,” Clinton said, citing the margin in Malloy’s 2010 victory over Foley.

Clinton also praised Malloy for his handling of natural disasters and the Sandy Hook School shooting, which prompted the Connecticut legislature to enact tougher gun regulations.

“I gotta say one thing about this gun issue,” Clinton said. “You know I was the last president to have some success. We passed the Brady bill and we passed the assault weapons ban and we limited ammunition clips and the blood was on the floor.”

He said he told a group of deer hunters in New Hampshire that if they lost an hour in the woods because of the legislation he passed then he didn’t want them to vote for him.

“You gotta have universal background checks,” Clinton said.

He said he has a friend in the mountains of north Arkansas, “which is about as gun crazy as you can get.” His friend has a friend who is a gun collector and the gun collector said “anybody who would sell a gun to someone else at a gun store, over the Internet, out of the back of a pickup, at a gun show without a background check, ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you can’t pass one you got no business owning a gun.”

As far as Republicans go, Clinton said, “they talk tough, but they govern soft.”

“They tell voters you can eat all the candy you want and you will never have to go to the dentist,” Clinton said. “The consequences are not good.”

Clinton said Malloy learned to be tough because of the obstacles he overcame as a child.

“He knew you’d never get anywhere in life if you lived in denial,” Clinton said. “. . . it is a lousy strategy for life, for child rearing, and for political leadership. You have the opposite in Dan Malloy.”

He told the crowd that their job was to go talk to people who weren’t in the room and tell them why they should support Malloy and why they’ve got to vote.

John Olsen, former president of the AFL-CIO and former Democratic Party chairman, said the biggest hurdle both Malloy and Foley face is voter apathy. It’s a midterm election and the governor’s race is at the top.

“It’s not so much about polls,” Olsen said. “It’s about turning out your base and being competitive with the unaffiliated voters in the state. That’s what wins elections.”

He said at the end of the day the governor needs to close the deal by telling voters why they need to vote for him.

Olsen pointed out that the negative ads coming mostly from outside Super PACs are known to suppress the vote, so this election is likely to be tight and will hinge largely on turnout efforts.

“The lives of the children and the future of this state will be shaped dramatically by this election,” Clinton told supporters. “In some ways this election is even more important than the last election.”

Malloy told the crowd he didn’t need to remind them of their collective successes, which he said included the creation of 60,000 private sector jobs since he was elected. He also cited increases in education funding and the deal he struck with United Technologies Corporation to maintain its presence in Connecticut.

“It’s great to have a former President visit our state—and it’s good for Connecticut,” Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Foley’s campaign said. “It also shows how desperate Dan Malloy is to bring in people he thinks can help him save his campaign which has been plagued by his record-breaking tax increase in 2011 and his failed polices which have stalled economic growth, resulting in Connecticut having one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation.”

Prior to his speech at the Omni Hotel, Malloy and Clinton visited Katalina’s Bakery on Whitney Avenue.

Katalina’s Bakery received a $30,000 Small Business Express loan from the state. Click here to read about Malloy’s previous visit to the bakery.

Clinton visited the state back in 2010 shortly before Malloy’s second run for governor. That rally at the University of Hartford drew hundreds and came at a time when Malloy was behind in the polls. He won the election a few days later by 6,404 votes.

The event at the Omni Hotel was a fundraiser for the Democratic Party. The party declined to say how much it raised, but tickets were $50 per person.

“We understand that Governor Malloy needs to raise money because he is behind in his race for re-election, but bringing former President Clinton here is a risky move,” the Republican Party said in a statement last week. “President Clinton insulted his wife and the American people by having an extramarital affair with a very young intern.”