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Frank Caprio to Get Bill Clinton's Help Despite Obama's Non-Endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, left, listens to Independent gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee during a debate, Oct. 14, 2010 in Providence, R.I.
AP Photo
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio answers a question during a televised debate Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010, in Providence, R.I.
AP Photo/Stew Milne

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign in Rhode Island for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio this week - despite the candidate recently telling President Obama, who refused to endorse Caprio, to "shove it," according to Politico.

The appearance, currently scheduled for Sunday, could give the Democrat a much-needed boost in the polls: According to a Rasmussen report from last Friday, Caprio trailed Independent Lincoln Chafee by seven points.

Tension surrounding the issue broke out earlier this week, when Mr. Obama said he would not be endorsing Caprio or any other candidate in the race and later showed up at a Democratic fundraiser at Chafee's home.

[Mr. Obama] "can take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I'm concerned," Caprio responded Monday on a radio show.

Mr. Obama later brushed the comments aside, saying they were "not a big deal."

Chafee, a former Republican, supported Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Now, with the release of a new ad, he is capitalizing on praise the former Senator bestowed on him while campaigning in Providence in 2008.

Caprio supported Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential campaign.

In a gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, Caprio defended his controversial "shove it" statement, and accused the president of engaging in "Washington backroom politics."

"What happened this weekend was something that was Washington backroom politics at its worst," Caprio said. "I'm going to defend myself when something like that happens, just like when I go up to the State House, Iâ??m going to fight for the people of Rhode Island."

"I stand by my words," he added.

Meanwhile, the Providence Journal is reporting that Caprio covertly courted Rhode Island Republicans earlier this year - and was considering switching political affiliations before the election.

John Dodenhoff, former campaign manager to Republican Stephen Laffey, said that GOP operative Michael Lepizzera approached him about a possible Caprio party switch during a lunch.

Dodenhoff told the Journal that he asked whether or not Caprio was on board with the idea.

"[Lepizzera] said, 'Frank might want to come over,'" Dodenhoff said. "I was taken aback. I said, 'Geez, Frank Caprio a Republican? I don't know how that's gonna fly.' I asked Mike if this was just him brainstorming ... or is this something that Frank knew about, and he said yes. Then I asked if his father, [Providence Municipal Court] Judge [Frank] Caprio, was on board, and I was told yes."

Caprio denied these allegations on Tuesday, and said "All that stuff played out months ago," he said, according to the Journal.