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Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

Bill Clinton Hopes to Make Magic on the Campaign Trail

Jewel Samad/AFP/GettyImages
Former President Bill Clinton looks on as President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event earlier this year. The former president is the most sought-after surrogate in the Democratic Party, and he has been bombarded with requests to campaign on behalf of candidates across the country.

By November, Bill Clinton's footprint will have been firmly imprinted on the collective stump of this election cycle.

The former president is the most sought-after surrogate in the Democratic Party - possibly more so than President Barack Obama - and he has been bombarded with requests to campaign on behalf of candidates across the country. Even Obama appears to have pinned his prospects in part on the Clinton magic. Clinton, who has made re-electing the president a top priority, is scheduled to deliver a prime-time speech on the second night of the Democratic National Convention and is expected to appear on Obama's behalf in battleground states.

"He is such a strong figure in terms of delivering that message, that any place that a Democrat is in a swing area, he is a good messenger," Democratic pollster Dave Beattie said. "He's probably the best messenger of either party, in terms of being seen as credible."

Clinton has said that he will do whatever is asked to get Obama re-elected. So far that's largely included headlining fundraisers for the Obama campaign, including one in Minneapolis on Aug. 4, three in New York in June and one in April at the McLean, Va., home of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

In the span of a week, Clinton will have attended three New York fundraisers, including last Thursday for Florida state Senate candidate and former Clinton adviser Nancy Soderberg. On Wednesday, he'll help raise money for Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and for Priorities USA, a super PAC set up to support Obama.

Fundraising is vital to keep the Obama machine churning, but the president could also use Clinton's help on the ground in a landscape less favorable to the party than in 2008. Several Democratic strategists described the former president as a calming influence on the electorate and a reminder of the possibility of better economic times - something that can help both Obama and downballot Democratic incumbents and challengers.

"People still are nostalgic about the way he comes across, in the sense of having a common touch, believing that there's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed," Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said. "He's seen as the eternal optimist who is still in touch."

Voters' favorable opinion of Clinton, measured by Gallup last month at 66 percent, hasn't been this high since he took office in 1993. His personal popularity has ebbed and flowed since leaving the White House in January 2001 but has been on a positive trajectory over the last four years - since the 2008 presidential primaries and the economic collapse.

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