Photo: MH Levine Bill Clinton makes his first appearance on the road for Hillary, back on January 4th 2016 in Nashua New Hampshire. Two dudes from Politico, Louis Nelson, and Nick Gass, weigh in.
FROM POLITICO: Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, was home working Sunday evening when Huma Abedin called with an urgent request: Could the former president drop his upcoming meetings in Washington, and take over for his pneumonia-felled wife on the campaign trail.
The answer was, of course, yes: The former president filled in at three fundraisers in California on Tuesday and at a rally in northern Las Vegas on Wednesday. While his wife rested in Chappaqua, New York, he tried to make her case that the country has “to vote for the only person with a credible economic plan.”
Story Continued Below
In the eyes of his most stalwart defenders, the last-minute sub was an example of the age-old Clinton two-for-one: “He can do something as a surrogate no Trump supporter can do: explain why she’s qualified for the job,” said former Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna. “If Gov. [Chris] Christie lives to be 1,000 years old, he’ll never know what it’s like to be president.”
But with eight weeks to go and Hillary Clinton’s lead slipping, some of her allies have begun to question how much the campaign should lean on him and how bright his legacy star power still is.
“We need to hear directly from the candidate at this point in the election,” a longtime Clinton ally and Democratic National Committee member, said. “It’s nice to have him, but the only real surrogate who works at this point is President Obama.”
By Louis Nelson
Indeed, Democratic operatives cast Clinton’s husband as a second-tier stand-in for the candidate — of less value than President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. He still has a 53 percent approval rating, according to a recent poll, and can speak to broad swaths of the electorate. But in some of the swing states where campaign operatives are putting in asks for big-name Democrats to visit, Bill Clinton comes in about even with Joe Biden and Tim Kaine, followed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Democratic operatives say. He’s seen as a highly effective rainmaker with donors, but less useful than the reigning leaders of the party at rallies and among voters.
The value of the Obamas as surrogates also rises because they are scarce commodities on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton, by contrast, is an easier get, with a weaker case to make: He has traveled to more than 40 states and territories, and headlined more than 400 public events for his wife this year.
“When you see Bill Clinton, the first thing you think of is not Hillary, it’s not tomorrow — it’s the former president and yesterday,” said the DNC member. “He can go and raise money, but in terms of what she is going to do as president — she needs to be making that case. I’m voting for Hillary. I’m not voting for Bill.”
Bill Clinton carried 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, in 1992 and again in 1996 — and he still loves campaigning. But there is a growing distance between Clinton’s presidency and the electorate, and unlike eight years ago, he’s no longer the last Democrat to sit in the Oval Office. The last time he ran for office was 20 years ago, which means anyone younger than 38 never even cast a vote for him.
Bill Clinton: ‘Almost certain’ Hillary is healthier than Trump
By NICK GASS
And that can be frustrating to the longtime Democratic closer.
After her 2008 loss, the Clintons decided to make the former president a workhorse, not a show horse this time around, toiling in the background of the Hillary show. This cycle, “he’s toned down his speeches, he’s toned down his political insight, he sticks to the talking points — he does everything he can not to make news,” said Garry Mauro, a longtime friend of the Clintons and current Texas state director.
But this backseat role has not always been comfortable for a hands-on political animal. The former president, according to an ally familiar with his thinking, has become increasingly “frustrated with the fact that the campaign is based on analytics, with not enough attention to message” as the polls tighten.
And he seems more energized when the spotlight is on him. During the Clinton-Kaine bus tour following the Democratic National Convention in July, for instance, the former president struggled to keep his eyes open as he sat silently next to Anne Holton, to the side of a podium at the K’NEX Brands toy manufacturing company in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
Wednesday’s rally at the College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus was Bill Clinton’s shot at driving a message with all cameras focused on him. “We need to live together, we need to protect women’s rights, labor rights, LGBT rights,” he said, pacing behind the “Stronger Together” podium that had been prepared for his wife. “We need to get over all these crazy divisions — that’s Hillary’s vision, that’s what ‘Stronger Together’ means.”
He looked energetic on stage for 40 minutes, hitting the talking points about his wife’s plans to encourage long-term investment and install solar panels to combat climate change, and whacking her opponent.
But he also waxed nostalgic, reminding the crowd of the “surplus budget” he left for his successor in 2000, and how he worked with former Sen. Tom Harkin to “change the Medicaid law so that a person with a disability could go to work and not lose his Medicaid.”
There also were signs of the physical setbacks that are part and parcel of his own advancing age. When a woman called out with a question while he was speaking on stage, Clinton, 70, responded, “I’m hard of hearing, so I’ll never be able to hear what you said.” He also didn’t escape the appearance without any missteps, downgrading his wife’s ailment from pneumonia to a more workaday flu: “It’s a crazy time we live in. You know, when people think there’s something unusual about getting the flu. Last time I checked, millions of people were getting it every year.”
By LOUIS NELSON
With Hillary Clinton set to return to the campaign trail Thursday, Democrats said they hope Bill Clinton subbing in for his wife is viewed more as a human moment than a long-term political strategy: simply an example of a supportive spouse doing his part.
And even if hearing from a former president is not the same as getting a real sense of the current candidate, he is still a celebrity who can draw a crowd.
Paparazzi shooting Sofia Vergara shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills Tuesday afternoon ditched the television star and scrambled to Alfred Coffee & Kitchen, after hearing that Clinton was on the premises, ordering a decaf Americano.
“Bill Clinton? I’m out,” said paparazzo Vladimir Labissiere, who biked over to capture an image of the former leader of the free world pressing the flesh and talking coffee production in Haiti. “This was the best shot of the day.”
Related articlesContact with post author