About 2,000 people are expected to gather in Lewiston today to hear former President Bill Clinton stump for a second time for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell, two days before the election.

Clinton, who is Mitchell’s longtime friend and political ally, will appear at a free “get-out-the-vote” rally at the Lewiston Armory at noon.

Clinton came to Maine a little over a month ago for a free rally in South Portland that drew 1,500 supporters.

He endorsed Mitchell in March, before the primary, when she was among five Democratic contenders for the governor’s seat.

Mitchell and her team are hoping Clinton’s visit will have a ripple effect beyond the brick walls of the old armory on Central Avenue and help to electrify her flagging campaign across the state.

“I’m certainly honored by his support,” Mitchell said, “We need a boost. He talks about hope and I think Mainers need hope now.”

Recent polls show Mitchell continues to trail Republican Paul LePage.

A MaineToday Media poll released Friday, conducted by Critical Insights, showed LePage at 40 percent, Mitchell at 21 percent and independent Eliot Cutler at 21 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Mitchell, who is president of the Maine Senate, has been Clinton’s friend for decades. Mitchell and her husband, Jim, a native of Arkansas like Clinton, supported the former president during his 1992 presidential campaign.

In 1994, Clinton appointed Mitchell to be chairwoman of the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. She held that post for four years.

In the 2008 presidential primary, Mitchell campaigned with Clinton in Maine in support of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is now secretary of state. And this year, before the June primary, Bill Clinton sent out a fundraising appeal for Mitchell.

In a letter to supporters announcing today’s rally, Mitchell noted that Clinton “presided over one of the longest economic expansions in our nation’s history.” She added, “It is great to have him back in Maine to help make the case to undecided voters and to energize our supporters in the final few days.”

Friday, Mitchell’s campaign workers had responded to 1,700 requests for reserved tickets to the rally, and they expect to have a full-capacity crowd of about 2,000 when doors open at 10 a.m. today, said David Loughran, Mitchell’s communications manager.

But many at the rally probably already support Mitchell, Loughran acknowledged. So her campaign is hoping that Clinton’s visit will inspire others to go to the polls with voting for Mitchell in mind.

“In a race with five candidates on the ballot, turnout is extremely important,” Loughran said. “There are few people in the country who can energize the electorate the way Bill Clinton can.”

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]