MINNEAPOLIS -- Former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that the Republican Party is embracing "ideology over evidence" and pushing out pragmatic voices that would make even his White House successor seem like a liberal.
Clinton, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, said there was no mistaking that Republicans have tacked hard right and questioned whether former President George W. Bush would fit in among the party's candidates this year.
"A lot of their candidates today, they make him look like a liberal," Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd at a downtown hotel as he campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.
Clinton pointed to the tea party movement's influence on the GOP.
"The Boston Tea Party was protesting abuse of power. This is now trading public power for the abuse of private power," Clinton said, just as a tea party-backed candidate was declared the winner Tuesday night in Delaware's hotly contested Republican primary for U.S. Senate
The former president was in Minnesota to support Dayton, the Democratic nominee for Minnesota governor. Organizers of the event sought campaign donations of between $100 and $1,000.
Dayton faces Republican state Rep. Tom Emmer and Independence Party nominee Tom Horner.
A Democrat hasn't been elected governor in Minnesota for 24 years.
In a statement before the event, Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton mocked the Clinton-Dayton pairing, noting Clinton as president famously declared "the era of big government is over."
"But former Senator Mark Dayton has spent his entire 30-year political career calling for more government, higher taxes and more of the status quo," Sutton said.