ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — In the twilight days of Virginia's costliest election, former President Bill Clinton twice rallied large crowds for President Barack Obama on Saturday before heading to a climactic, late-night rock 'n' roll rally 35 miles from the White House with Obama.
A standing-room-only crowd of 2,500 people packed a high school gym for a dinner-hour rally Saturday in Roanoke. Clinton called Obama "a good and faithful commander-in-chief" who has done far more for the economy than Republicans will acknowledge.
At a morning rally with barely 12 hours' notice, the hoarse and weary Clinton praised Obama's handling of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated New Jersey and New York, including Clinton's home in Chappaqua, N.Y. He also said Obama had been an ally to the military that dominates an area that is home to the world's largest U.S. Navy base in nearby Norfolk.
"Here in this area, it needs to be said over and over again. He has been a fine commander in chief," Clinton said to loud applause. "He ended the war in Iraq."
Clinton also criticized Republican Mitt Romney's tax plan and said that Obama is the only one of the two candidates who has a budget proposal that adds up. He praised Obama's health care overhaul and said that reforms included in it would allow companies to keep their health care costs down and allow them to give employees raises.
In Roanoke, the former president, who presided over a robust economy and produced four budget surpluses, said no president — himself included — could have repaired the damage done to the economy under Obama's Republican predecessor.
"We put Republicans in because they told us, essentially, you could eat candy for the rest of our lives and never go to the dentist," Clinton told the Roanoke crowd.
Curt Cashour, a Romney campaign spokesman in Virginia, said Clinton was trying to mask Obama's failures.
"With no record to run on and no vision for the future, the Obama campaign is resorting to false, discredited attacks and a cynical closing message urging voters to choose 'revenge,'" Cashour said.