Former President Bill Clinton was in Providence Wednesday to campaign for a candidate who is running against a politician he backed four years ago.
Clinton headlined a rally at the Rhode Island Convention Center for Democratic candidate for treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is the son of former Clinton administration policy adviser Ira Magaziner.
The political newcomer is running against former Treasurer Frank Caprio, the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate. Clinton supported Caprio in his 2010 campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Clinton did not mention Caprio by name and urged voters "not to be against anybody, but to be for Seth Magaziner." Clinton said Magaziner "projects hope" and will create jobs in Rhode Island.
"You've been through a really rough time since this financial crash," Clinton told an audience of about 250 people. "You deserve as many good jobs as quickly as you can get them, and Seth Magaziner will help you get them."
Clinton campaigned for Caprio in 2010 after Caprio had supported Hillary Rodham Clinton in her presidential bid. At that time, Caprio called Rhode Island "Clinton country." He finished the governor's race in third.
When asked about the former president now campaigning for his rival, Caprio said, "I've always supported President Clinton and I look forward to supporting Hillary Clinton if she seeks office."
Clinton spent most of his 10-minute speech praising Magaziner's plan for how to use the treasurer's office to build the state's economy and create jobs. Magaziner's father still works with Clinton at the Clinton Foundation.
Magaziner, a 31-year-old investment professional, said that when Rhode Island voters supported Clinton in 1992, they chose someone with new ideas for stimulating the economy.
"The choice we're faced with today is the same as the choice we had 22 years ago," he said. "Do we want change or more of the same? I'm running for treasurer because I know that the office can, and must be, an engine for economic growth in this state."
Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University, said Clinton's support for Magaziner - despite his being close with the Caprio family - could sway undecided voters.
Lori Snady-McCoy, a doctor from Barrington, said she went to the event to hear Magaziner, and she's a "pretty big fan" of both Clintons. She said she had not yet made up her mind and the former president's support of Magaziner could sway her.
"Hopefully it means Clinton has looked at his policies and ideas and thinks they are in line with his own," she said.
Magaziner, who most recently worked as a vice president at the investment firm Trillium Asset Management, has promised to bring a fresh perspective to state government.
Now with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, Rhode Island moved out of last place and is tied with Michigan and Nevada, ahead of last place Mississippi and Georgia. It is just now nearing pre-recession employment levels.
The 48-year-old Caprio, meanwhile, has highlighted his experience as treasurer from 2007 to 2010.
The winner of the Sept. 9 primary faces former state Auditor General Ernie Almonte, who is running as an independent, in November. No Republican filed to run.
Incumbent Gina Raimondo is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.