Bill Clinton's back in the campaign game big time
The Obama campaign said Saturday it was pairing Clinton with another heavyweight, rocker Bruce Springsteen, at a rally this coming Thursday in Ohio, one of the most pivotal states.
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His high-profile role also gives him the chance to enhance his legacy as Democratic elder statesman and global humanitarian. He can build up political IOUs should his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, decide to run again for president down the road.
Out of office since 2001, Clinton is proving that he retains a strong appeal with voters, especially in conservative states where Democratic candidates aren't eager to appear with Obama. The ex-president is a leading expert in the art of the political comeback – a skill the struggling Obama could use now.
Also, there's this uncomfortable truth: Obama needs Clinton to generate support with white, working-class and independent voters who were drawn to Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but who haven't warmed to Obama.
"If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good," Romney joked in remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative last month, a nod to Clinton's convention speech.
In Indianapolis on Friday to boost Senate Democratic hopeful Joe Donnelly, Clinton said he hadn't expected to be so involved in the 2012 campaign. But Hillary Clinton is busy as America's chief diplomat and daughter Chelsea works for a broadcast network, he noted.
"So you're stuck with me," Clinton told the crowd.
Obama himself has cracked that he should appoint Clinton "secretary of explaining stuff."
The lighthearted tone and determined cooperation between Obama and Clinton is hard-won and may not end with the 2012 campaign.