ABC News’ Alex Pepper reports:
Former President Bill Clinton provided a jolt to Democratic Senate primary race in Colorado today, parting from the White House to endorse former state Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. President Obama and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have supported incumbent Senator Michael Bennet.
In an e-mail statement, Clinton lauded Romanoff as “one of the best legislative leaders in the United States. Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff's leadership. America will be too.”
Clinton details meeting first meeting Romanoff, then a Harvard student, during the 1992 presidential campaign and praised the candidate’s record in Colorado politics.
“Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead,” Clinton said. “I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November. I support Andrew Romanoff, and I hope you will too.”
Romanoff was a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, while Bennet was associated with the Obama campaign.
Bennet was appointed to the Senate seat in January 2009 by Governor Bill Ritter (D) to replace Ken Salazar, who left to become Secretary of the Interior. The DSCC has contributed more than $70,000 to Bennet.
President Obama held fundraisers for Bennet during a visit in February. The president’s involvement in the race was recently scrutinized after Romanoff claimed that the White House had discussed jobs that he might be offered if he chose not to challenge Bennet. The administration confirmed that there had been contact with Romanoff regarding several positions, but denied any impropriety or connection to the Colorado race.
In this afternoon's White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs avoided commenting on the endorsement.
“I’m delighted by the President’s decision. It’s a great honor and a big boost for our campaign,” Romanoff told ABC News.
“I’m glad that my record of legislative leadership matters to President Clinton, and I believe it matters to the people of Colorado as well.”
He said that the endorsement builds on the increased attention his candidacy has received. “This accelerates our momentum- or as one of my staffers coined it, Romentum, but that phrase really hasn’t caught on yet.”