Clinton raises money, Crist makes appearance at South Florida fundraiser

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Former President Bill Clinton flexed his political muscle for Congressional candidates Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy during a private fundraiser with several hundred donors in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

Clinton, who electrified the party faithful during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week and fired up students at Florida International University in Miami on Monday, rallied supporters at the Palm Beach Hilton Hotel.

" I couldn't ask for a better cheerleader and someone who is so well-respected as our great former president Bill Clinton," said Frankel, the former West Palm Beach mayor who faces Republican Adam Hasner in the U.S. House District 22 match-up. "You see the base amped up. You see people paying more attention. People now realize there are now such stark choices between the different candidates running. "

Clinton, who headlined the up to $5,000-per-person fundraiser, encouraged Democrats to vote for Frankel and Murphy, who faces Tea Party favorite Allen West in the U.S. House District 18 race.

"It was an honor to have the president here. We're grateful for this support," said Murphy. "We have to do everything we can to get the support to stay up on TV … to identify the issues that we care about, what I want to do to change things and what my opponent stands for."

Together, Frankel and Murphy raised $3.6 million dollars in the first three months of 2012 – more than any other non-incumbent Democrat running for Congress.

On Wednesday, Sid Dinerstein, the chair of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County dismissed Clinton's visit as a "sideshow. "

"Bill Clinton can do his dance and his diversion all he wants but people are serious and are paying attention," he said. "We're in a serious place in this nation's history. And, I don't think Bill Clinton gets to fool us anymore. "

Clinton, who was in Florida as part of a two-day swing for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, shared the spotlight at the fundraiser with Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist.

Crist addressed delegates at the Democratic National Convention and is reported to be weighing a 2014 run for Florida governor – as a Democrat.

"We need to have people with common sense -- like Lois and Patrick -- in the United States Congress representing our Florida. I mean, now more than ever. We need that," he said.

Both President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have campaigned heavily in Florida.

Last month, Mr. Obama and Democrats raised $114 million – $2 million more than challenger Romney and Republicans.

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