New reports indicate that the Hillary Clinton's camp is "ramping up her husbands role" in the campaign-- "despite his repeated gaffes"-- insiders believe Bill Clinton is now giving HRC a "boost" (Otis, New York Post, 4/27). A slew of pundits and columnists weighed in on Bill's new status:
Letting Bill Be Hill
Newsweek's Darman writes Bill Clinton "has resisted temptation and let Hillary have the limelight. After 15 months, the campaign belongs to Hillary -- Hillary the "inevitable, the endangered, the fighter, the fabricator, the star. Bill made the great and necessary sacrifice not to lead, but to follow."
The "problem is that second-banana Bill Clinton, stripped of his leader's charisma, is sometimes hard to like. ... Perhaps now, as she looks to the white working class" of NC and" IN to help save her long-shot campaign, she will let her husband, a child of the white, working class, be the star for a little while. Maybe after 15 months, salvation for the Clintons will mean letting Bill be Bill" (4/28).
Back?!? Did He Ever Go?
In a front-Page article entitled "He's Back," Wall Street Journal's Langley writes, Bill Clinton has given his wife's campaign "new momentum as he seizes a bigger role." Highlights:
• His "relentless approach to battling" Obama -- on the trail and inside the campaign -- is becoming key to HRC's "newfound success."
• Dubbed the "Billification" of HRC's campaign by some insiders, B. Clinton h"as become something of a strategist-in-chief in recent weeks. He has been pushing for harder and sharper attacks" on Obama.
• At the Clintons' DC, home recently, sources say B. Clinton "reviewed possible TV spots and told ad makers to be more hard-hitting, faster and harsher."
• Known as a bad loser, Clinton "privately buttresses his wife's drive to push on, telling her," according to aides: "We're not quitters."
• HRC manager Maggie Williams "has worked to ensure that" Clinton's role is "managed" in an attempt to prevent costly remarks. To accomplish this, the camp provides a daily briefing to Clinton with a message of the day or the week
• Clinton's "influence is evident in pollster Mark Penn's continuing role in the campaign."
• The HRC camp says Clinton is helping his wife's bid far more than he hurts. Clinton spokesperson Jay Carson: "A lot of politics is being played about the former president here. The other campaign wants to diminish the importance of our best campaigner" (4/26).
The Good, The Mad, And The Ugly
In a piece called "Bill vs. Barack," New Yorker's Lizza writes:
• When B. Clinton "makes news, it is rarely a good day for his spouse. Whether he was publicly comparing" Obama's primary victory in SC to Jesse Jackson's WH bids in the eighties "or privately, and apoplectically, complaining that Bill Richardson broke his word by endorsing Obama, every story has seemed to reinforce an image of [B. Clinton] as a sort of ill-tempered coot driven a little mad by Obama's success."
• A Clinton camp adviser, on B. Clinton: "I think this campaign has enraged him. ... He doesn't like Obama."
• "In private conversations, he has been dismissive of his wife's rival." House Maj. Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) "told me that [B. Clinton] called him in the middle of the night after Obama won that state's primary and raged at him for fifty minutes." Clyburn: "It's pretty widespread now that African-Americans have lost a whole lot of respect for Bill Clinton."
• "Adjusting to the modern, gaffe-centric media environment has been wrenching" for B. Clinton. "At most of his Pennsylvania stops, the national press was represented mainly by a pair of young TV-network 'embeds,' whom [B. Clinton] regards not as reporters but as media jackals who record his every utterance yet broadcast only his outbursts, a phenomenon that has helped transform him into a YouTube curiosity and diminished him—perhaps permanently." A Clinton camp adviser: "It's like he's been plucked out of time and thrown into the middle of this entirely new kind of campaign." Ex-B. Clinton spokesperson/Clinton camp official Jay Carson: "Because of the way he is covered, the only thing anyone ever sees is fifteen seconds that is deemed by the pundits to be off message" (5/5 issue).
At Least He Has A Window Office In Harlem
Bloomberg's Hunt writes that Bill Clinton will be the "biggest loser" of the campaign, regardless of the outcome. "Before this campaign, he was an international statesman extraordinaire and the guru for ambitious" Dem pols. In recent months, "he has devalued himself and his future by his conduct."
If HRC "upsets the odds and wins the presidency, it's likely to prove an unhappy time for her husband. He would be scrutinized, politically and personally; political strains between the president and first spouse would emerge." Meanwhile, a Pres. "Obama would drive him crazy. If not irrelevant, it would make Clinton a secondary figure within his own country and party. There is little that would make him more frustrated or angrier" (4/28).
The Fall From Grace
New York Daily News McAuliff and Bazinet write, "He's just not the same Bubba." B. Clinton "is still brilliant, still passionate and still a magnificent campaigner. But people who have known him and observers who have watched Bill Clinton for decades say he's lost at least half a step."
Longtime Clinton insider: "I would have hoped by now he would have seen that his behavior at times during the campaign has been extraordinarily detrimental to Hillary, and he would have backed off. Usually with him, there's some sort of self-awareness and he rights any wrongs. But it seems of late that he's not seeing what he's doing" (4/26).
The Oregon Trail
Bill Clinton "made several stops" in IN yesterday, including in Hartford City, where it "was the first time a president has ever visited the small town" (Sanchez, WISH-TV Indianapolis, 4/28).
B. Clinton also "barnstormed" through OR's Willamette Valley on 4/26, "telling one small-town audience after another that his wife is dedicated to restoring the economic vitality of rural areas and is the best candidate to bring them health care, affordable education and energy independence."
B. Clinton "stuck to a script that was heavy on bread-and-butter economics" as he spoke to audiences in Junction City, Albany, Monmouth, McMinnville, Oregon City, and Portland.
And although he has "drawn controversy" recently "as he has become embroiled in exchanges with African American leaders," B. Clinton "demonstrated during his latest swing" that he "remains a potent figure outside the glare of the national spotlight as he campaigns in locales unaccustomed to seeing political figures of his stature" (Mapes/Zheng, Portland Oregonian, 4/27).
Meanwhile, in North Bend, OR, on 4/25 p.m., "hundreds of people started lining up four hours before" B. Clinton's appearance, "bringing blankets, pizza and plenty of questions about how his wife would revive the flagging economy in an often-overlooked city and state." B. Clinton "told the crowd in this former logging town" that his wife "would create jobs for rural Oregonians through energy efficiency and provide access to affordable health care."
B. Clinton: "The truth is most Americans have been in a recession for quite some time now. You know you're not alone here" (Zheng, Portland Oregonian, 4/26).
This article appears in the April 28, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.