Bill Clinton touts Mark Dayton, bemoans GOP’s rightward movement

As the band played his longtime campaign theme song (Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”) former President Bill Clinton entered a ballroom at the Graves 601 Hotel Tuesday night to raise money for DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.

Between 250 and 300 people, chipping in between $100 to $1000, were present, according to a pool report from the Associated Press.

Clinton, who entered the room about 9:20 p.m., spoke to the gathering for about 35 minutes, after standing for “VIP photos’’ before his speech.

Much of the Clinton talk was aimed at the ever-rightward movement of the Republican Party:

“A lot of their candidates today, they make him [President George W. Bush] look like a liberal. It used to be that Republicans were evidence-based, not dogma-based. They have thrown all that overboard. This is about dogma and big special interest under the guise of the tea party.”

Clinton did say that Democrats need to show empathy with the anger of many in the tea party movement.

“There’s a lot of voter anger out there and that anger is legitimate,’’ Clinton said. “Millions of Americans feel disempowered.  To those voters, we should honor their anger. Tell them we’re mad, too. But the question is when you’re mad, what do you do with your anger. You have to channel it to something positive. … Honor the anger but tell people not to let it cloud their judgment.’’

As for the race in Minnesota, Clinton, not surprisingly, praised Dayton: “I feel like I know this man. He has a good heart and he has a good mind and what he’ll do is predictable.’’

Republican candidate Tom Emmer? Clinton never used the name, but he did say, “Near as I can tell, he wants to get rid of government.’’

Neither the DFL, which is to get a share of the proceeds from the fundraiser, nor the Dayton campaign would say how much was raised.

The two candidates Dayton defeated in the primary, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Matt Entenza, were among those present.

Dayton spoke briefly before Clinton, saying, “You’re not here to hear about me, you’re here to heart a great man, a great leader, former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.”

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