Bill Clinton visiting RI Wednesday for Magaziner

Bill Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for Seth Magaziner, center, in New York earlier this year. (photo: Magaziner campaign)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former President Bill Clinton will be in Rhode Island on Wednesday afternoon to stump for Democratic general-treasurer candidate Seth Magaziner, the son of a longtime close Clinton confidante.

Clinton is scheduled to headline a rally for Magaziner at 4:15 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.

Magaziner is battling former Treasurer Frank Caprio to win the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 9 primary. Ironically, the last time Clinton came to Rhode Island to campaign was in 2010 – when he came to support Caprio, who was then the Democratic nominee for governor.

A WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll earlier this month shows Magaziner has jumped out to a double-digit lead over Caprio in the Democratic primary. The survey of 503 primary voters found Magaziner in the lead at 42%, with Caprio trailing at 31%, and 24% of voters undecided. That was a big shift from the May WPRI 12/Journal poll, which gave Caprio the lead.

While the Caprio family has long supported the Clintons, the relationship they have with the former president is no match for that of the Magaziner clan. Seth Magaziner has aired TV ads highlighting Bill Clinton’s endorsement of his candidacy, and he met with Hillary Clinton when she signed books at a Seekonk Sam’s Club last month. Bill Clinton also headlined a New York City fundraiser for Magaziner back in March.

Ira Magaziner, Seth’s father, met Clinton when the pair were both Rhodes Scholars at Oxford and later served as a top White House adviser, famously working with Hillary Clinton on an unsuccessful health-care overhaul; he also masterminded Rhode Island’s failed “Greenhouse Compact” plan in the 1980s. Ira Magaziner lives in Bristol and is now CEO and vice chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a Clinton Foundation project.

A third candidate for treasurer, former Auditor General Ernie Almonte, dropped out of the Democratic primary in late June and announced he would instead seek to win the treasurer’s office as an independent in November; Republican leaders are tacitly backing him. All three candidates met for a one-hour televised debate on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers last month.

Clinton’s campaign stop in Providence will come just two days before the current Democratic president, Barack Obama, visits Newport to raise money for U.S. House Democrats.

Ted Nesi ( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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