“Bad blood” between Barack Obama and the Clintons is keeping Bill Clinton from more direct involvement in the presidential campaign — but Obama could benefit from a closer relationship with the former president.
That’s the view of Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, who recounted a conversation he had with a Hillary Clinton fundraiser after Obama wrapped up the nomination in June.
The fundraiser said she pleaded with Obama to make overtures to a “potentially disruptive Bill Clinton.” According to Fineman, the fundraiser said: “I told Barack, ‘Have dinner. Clear the air. Win him over.’”
Obama “didn’t seem eager,” but he did make a brief call a month later, the fundraiser disclosed. When the fundraiser pressed Obama to do more, “Barack told me it was hard to find the time, and I said, ‘You’d better.’”
Obama did call Bill a second time more recently, and it was agreed that Clinton would speak at the convention in Denver, although they made no plans to sit down and talk alone.
“Everyone knows there is bad blood between the Obamas and the Clintons,” Fineman writes, noting that “Obama could use the Clintons’ help, even if he is reluctant to admit it.”
In fact, negotiations concerning the Clintons’ role at the convention have involved at least 12 staffers “and exude the labored air of Middle East peace talks,” the Newsweek writer disclosed.
The Obama camp has agreed to let Hillary Clinton deliver the keynote speech at the convention, but Bill’s role remains unclear.
At the recent Aspen Institute Ideas Conference, academics, business leaders, journalists and fundraisers sat “in rapt silence” as Bill spoke about energy, education and rural poverty, Fineman said, adding:
“I knew what they were thinking: the guy is flawed (as are we all), but what a once-in-a-generation talent. Obama sure could use him.”
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