Former President Clinton campaigns in Pittsburgh for Obama

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PITTSBURGH - Former President Bill Clinton gave Pittsburghers one last sales pitch Monday at a rally in Market Square to tell why they should vote to re-elect President Obama.

“To me this election is fairly simple,” Clinton told a crowd that filled the middle of the square on a chilly morning. “Who’s more likely to restore the middle class and give poor folks a chance to work their way into it?”

“I think it’s the candidate who got off the campaign trail and went to work on Hurricane Sandy with Republicans,” Clinton said, referring to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who praised Obama’s response to the disaster.

Clinton joined many Democrats at the rally involved in close, high-profile races, including U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton.

Recent polls indicate both Democrats are in tight contests with respective Republican challengers Keith Rothfus, a Sewickley lawyer, and Tom Smith, a coal -mining magnate.

Others joining Clinton were U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and labor bigwigs Leo Gerard, head of the United Steelworkers, and Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO.

Clinton also is scheduled to give stump speeches for Obama Monday in Blue Bell and Philadelphia.

The presence of the Democrats’ cheerleader-in-chief here signals to many that the presidential race in traditionally left-leaning Pennsylvania could be tightening.

Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney recently began airing campaign commercials in the state, which Obama won by a large margin in 2008 and which hasn’t supported a Republican for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

“If he’s here, it means Pennsylvania is up for grabs,” Obama supporter Patrick Connelly, 56, of Mars said after the rally. “It’s going to be close.”

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.