Another Clinton friend set to endorse Barack Obama

By Leonard Doyle
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:20

Yet another long-time personal and political friend of Bill Clinton's cabinet is on the point of announcing his endorsement of Barack Obama.

This time it is Robert Reich, the former president Clinton's labour secretary and now a Berkeley professor. Mr Reich, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, has been singing the praises of Mr Obama's candidacy for weeks, but out of loyalty to Mrs Clinton he did not wish to make a public endorsement of her opponent.

But the negative-attack ads which the Clinton campaign released in Pennsylvania in the wake of a mis-statement by Mr Obama a week ago persuaded him to act. "I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics," he told New York magazine.

"Those ads are nothing but Republicanism," he continued. "They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past 20 years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst – and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical."

Mr Reich has attacked the Clintons in the past, referring to Mr Clinton's attacks on Mr Obama as "ill-tempered and ill-founded". On his blog he even accused the Clintons of waging "a smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics".

But his endorsement of Mr Obama will resonate through the Democratic Party, especially in his native Pennsylvania, which votes on Tuesday and where Mr Reich is revered.

The 61-year-old economic guru still describes himself as a friend of the Clintons for 40 years. That relationship is sure to suffer, in the same way as the other former Clinton cabinet member and presidential candidate Bill Richardson suffered when he also endorsed Mr Obama.

Mr Reich's endorsement follows the singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen's decision to back Mr Obama this week.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments