Miami Beach

Bill Clinton endorses Miami Beach mayoral candidate

Miami Beach mayoral candidate Philip Levine’s campaign on Monday announced an endorsement by former President Bill Clinton.

The backing by one of America’s most-popular political figures may be a big boost for Levine in Democrat-heavy Miami Beach.

Addressing a rally of Levine supporters, Clinton said he was backing a pal.

“I would be for him if we weren’t friends, first of all, because of his involvement with our Clinton Global Initiative, which puts a premium on cooperation across party lines,” Clinton said as he stood next to Levine in a video posted on Levine’s campaign website.

Clinton added: “I know he’s competent. I know he cares about the people...I wish you well and I thank you for helping my friend, because he’ll make a great mayor.”

Clinton’s visit to Miami-Dade — one of the most-crucial counties of one of the most-crucial swing states — coincides with the likely decision of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to run for president in 2016.

Levine and Bill Clinton have been described as friends for years. Levine is a multimillionaire with businesses in the cruise ship industry and real estate. He has bankrolled his own campaign to the tune of $1.2 million.

In 2000, he had the former president over to his home for a 50-person, $25,000-a-couple fund-raiser for a Democratic congressional candidate. That same year, he flew to Beverly Hills to co-host a just-as-expensive fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. The guests of honor? Clinton and Al Gore. And in 2006, Levine reportedly threw a $1,000-per-person lunch for Hillary Clinton.

Levine faces current entertainer Steve Berke and Commissioner Michael Góngora in the Nov. 5 election. Early voting starts Oct. 21.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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