"There's a philosophy of saying and doing anything it takes." That was David Axelrod's critique of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign back in 2008, when he accused Bill Clinton of "doing slash and burn stuff" to win the nomination.
Now, four years later, it takes Bill Clinton to make the case for re-electing President Obama.
Democrats will announce today that Clinton will give a prime-time address at this year's convention in Charlotte, formally nominating Obama for a second term in office and offering a clear contrast between his candidate and Republican Mitt Romney.
The formal nomination is an insider's curiosity, a stark reversal from 2008, when Clinton's anger over the primaries was still palpable (And a nice parallel with 2008, when it was Hillary Clinton who moved that Obama's nomination be recorded as unanimous).
But the speech he will give is the truly important signal, another twist in the complicated and decidedly awkward political relationship between the two giants of Democratic politics made necessary by one's search for a legacy and another's hunt for re-election.
It's a sign that the president who felt our pain is still the politician best able to connect with voters who will decide this election. At a moment when Americans are choosing between an incumbent who can't stop talking about how rich he is and a Republican who can't stop talking about his buddies who own NASCAR and NFL teams, Clinton is perhaps the only national figure average Americans trust to understand what they're going through.
Axelrod, Obama's top strategist, said as much in an interview with the New York Times yesterday: "There isn't anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton."
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