​Bill Clinton says he's surprised by Democrats' midterm loses

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton speaks on behalf of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) during an early voting rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 20, 2014.

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Former President Bill Clinton said Saturday that Democrats lacked a "national advertising campaign" in the recent midterm elections and that he's surprised many Senate races were not closer.

Clinton said in an interview with Politico that Republicans were helped by a larger bloc of voters who felt more strongly about the elections than members of his party.

Democrats could have benefited from a national message that reinforced the party's positions on refinancing student loans and promoting equal pay for women, he said.

"The people who were against us felt more strongly than the people who were for us. The people who were for us just in all the din couldn't hear what was actually a fairly coherent economic message coming out," Clinton told the publication during an event surrounding the 10th anniversary of his presidential center.

It was Clinton's first extensive comments on Democrats' sweeping losses in the November elections. Republicans gained control of the Senate majority, strengthened its hold on the House and won governor's offices in several Democratic-leaning states.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has not yet publicly discussed the recent elections, but her advisers are closely studying the results ahead of a potential presidential campaign in 2016.

The former president noted that in 2014 there was a "collapse" in the youth vote and Democrats saw a slight drop in the Hispanic vote. He suggested it may have been attributed to President Barack Obama's decision not to issue an executive order on immigration, which he called a "tough call."

He also urged Obama to avoid becoming a "lame duck" in his final two years in office "by continuing to have an agenda and using the budget process to make deals with Republicans."

Clinton, in earlier remarks at the event, spoke about his administration's record in promoting economic prosperity broadly. "This shows the importance of policy. We can do this again," he said.