Bill Clinton campaigns for Obama in Nevada |

Bill Clinton campaigns for Obama in Nevada

Martin Griffith / The Associated Press

RENO ” Former President Clinton said Monday that the U.S. economy “is in the tank” and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a better grasp than John McCain of how to deal with the issue.

Clinton, speaking at a rally to about 1,200 people, maintained Obama also has better advisers than the Republican presidential contender to guide him on such complex issues as the $700 billion financial rescue package passed by Congress this month.

“If you listened to the last two debates when they discussed this, you didn’t have any doubt, did you, about which one was more fluent, who understood it better and who had a better grasp of it, right?” Clinton said.

“We can’t fool with this, folks. This thing could still get away from us. We have to put the brightest and the best minds we can on this, and the people who will bring in the best people,” he added. “Barack Obama is not afraid of smart people.”

The former president said he was impressed with how Obama initially acknowledged he wasn’t clear on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and then consulted top advisers before announcing his support for the measure.

While many people are irate about the bailout, he added Obama put the country’s interests above politics by voting for it.

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“The world is full of highly complicated problems, including the finance issue, the energy issue and the health care issue here in America, and we need a president who wants to understand and who can understand,” Clinton said.

Appearing in the same Truckee Meadows Community College building where he spoke on behalf of his wife’s presidential campaign in January, Clinton said it’s vitally important to have someone in the White House who understands economic issues.

Obama will win unless voters forget the election is about fixing the economy, restoring the American dream and improving foreign relations, he said.

“The economy is in the tank and we all know it and almost 100 percent of the American people are worried about it, whatever their incomes,” he said. “And there are more people in real difficulty even than there were in ’92 when I was elected.”

Clinton maintained Obama also would do a better job of restoring U.S. standing in the world, a task that won’t be easy because of heavy criticism over the war in Iraq.

“The world will like it if Sen. Obama wins because they think he’s a modern person who cares about the rest of the world,” he said. “They want us to say to them, ‘We’re going to work with you whenever we can and act alone only when we have to.”‘

About a dozen Republican protesters waved placards outside.

Earlier in the day, Clinton touted Democratic policies in an address to about 400 people at Great Basin College in Elko.

He said the economy suffered when the Bush administration was given the opportunity to enact the “extreme right wing” agenda.

Clinton said 22.7 million new jobs were created while he was in office compared with 5 million under the Bush administration.

He said development of renewable energy sources in Nevada and elsewhere would create jobs, lessen dependence on foreign oil and help reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

“You’ve got to hire a president who will get the financial system up and going again and restore competency,” Clinton said.