Bill Clinton goes to bat for Foster
BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporters November 5, 2012 12:22AM
Updated: December 6, 2012 11:48AM
Could Bubba make the difference in the deadlocked west-suburban congressional race between Democrat Bill Foster and U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, the GOP incumbent?
Foster’s campaign Sunday announced that ex-President Bill Clinton, the Democratic icon who starred at September’s Democratic National Convention, has recorded a phone message on Foster’s behalf that will urge voters beginning Monday to side with him over Biggert.
That development capped a busy day when most of the candidates in the suburbs’ high-stakes congressional contests made a frenzied, final weekend push Sunday to get out the vote before Tuesday’s elections.
“At the end of the recording he made for us, I have to stand up there and say, ‘I’m Bill Foster, and I approve this message.’ I was thinking I should just record it and say, ‘I’m Bill Foster and I’d be crazy not to approve this,’ ” Foster joked to reporters outside a Joliet church.
“You’re talking about a president under whose guidance the economy made 22 million jobs, and he’s endorsing me against an opponent who voted for every one of the Bush policies that drove us into debt, wrecked our economy and made zero jobs in the eight years they were in charge,” he said, describing Biggert as not “being a friend of the middle class.”
Foster, of Naperville, began his day attending church services in Joliet, Aurora and Lockport, and hit an afternoon church rally at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Joliet with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).
About 50 supporters showed up there. Biggert, meanwhile, donned a long-sleeved Chicago Bears jersey and spent her afternoon at a sports pub in Bolingbrook, packed with Bears fans drinking and feasting on a hog roast sponsored by the village’s Lions Club.
Her campaign minimized the impact of the Clinton call, saying it’s a sign that Foster is worried about how close the race is in a district she said was drawn to elect a Democrat. Last week, a poll by We Ask America, an affiliate of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, had Foster ahead of Biggert by a 50.4 to 49.6 percent margin, which considering the margin of error means the 11th Congressional District campaign is a statistical tie.
“I think President Clinton did a great job, but I don’t know how that’s going to make any difference with what’s going on now,” said Biggert in between having bar patrons approach her to have their pictures taken with her.
The strike against Foster, she said, is that the one-term congressman lost his re-election bid in 2010.
Voters regard him as a poor communicator and have stayed away from his campaign events, she said.
“They didn’t re-elect him, I think, because he just isn’t out with the people. He’s a very smart guy, a scientist. But he’s not one that communicates with the constituency. We had a big rally yesterday [with] over 100 people. He was supposed to have one, and there were only eight people there,” said Biggert, of Hinsdale.
Meanwhile, candidates in the 10th Congressional District, covering the North Shore and out west to Fox Lake, were out in force on Sunday.
Democratic candidate Brad Schneider of Deerfield spent a good part of the day visiting churches then made a stop to thank volunteers working at a Grayslake phone bank.
“I’ve been the whole gambit, synagogues and to churches and have been all over the district,” Schneider said. “People are frustrated by the gridlock in Washington. It’s really hurting our economy and our future.”
Meanwhile, in Round Lake, the Bob Dold Bus, an oversized passenger bus decked out with Dold for Congress signs, rolled up to the Lakes Bowl.
“It is absolutely laughable that Brad Schneider would be in essence someone who would break up the gridlock,” Dold said, as he sat in the packed bowling alley. “I don’t know what district he thinks he’s running in. Maybe he thinks he’s in another district since a lot of his commercials are showing other opponents, as opposed to myself.” It was a reference to ads put on by an outside group that attacks three Republican congressional candidates — including Dold— by using images of lightning rod Joe Walsh, the Tea Party-backed incumbent congressman running against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the 8th Congressional District.
Dold, a Republican incumbent of Kenilworth, said his campaign has made more than 625,000 phone calls and knocked on 65,000 doors.
“Between now and Election Day, we’ll knock on another 21,000,” he said. “We’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”
Elsewhere in suburbia, a smiling Duckworth was visiting with volunteers in her Rolling Meadows office late Sunday after a series of events scattered throughout the district.
“I’m energized,” she said. Duckworth said volunteers worked the phones and knocked on doors, of course being mindful of the Bears game.
“We know we don’t want to knock on people’s doors during the Bears’ game!” she said.
Her opponent, Walsh, was doing “stop-ins” according to his campaign, but did not hold any public events on Sunday in an unusual strategic move on the last weekend before the election.