Bill Clinton has emerged as a key player in President Barack Obama’s re-election plans, a role that will be very much on display at the Democratic National Convention when he becomes the first former president to nominate a successor.
Clinton’s assignment Wednesday night is a tough one. He must reach out to middle-class America and convince them that Obama is better suited to the pull the economy out of the ditch than GOP challenger Mitt Romney, The Washington Post
“There is nothing formulaic about Clinton’s presence at the Democratic National Convention this year,” writes Clinton and Obama biographer David Maraniss in The Post. “He is not just another old presidential war horse being trotted out for nostalgia or a staged show of unity.
“When Obama called in late July to say he would be grateful if his Democratic predecessor would give the speech placing his name in nomination, something that no former commander in chief has done before, it was an acknowledgment of how much the sitting president needs the former president.
The paper said Clinton responded "with an enthusiasm and diligence that served as yet another signal to people close to both men that an old wound has for the most part been healed.”
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Clinton is “honored that Obama asked him” to speak and added, “This speech is very important to him. He has taken the burden and put it on his shoulders.”
Clinton’s high-profile role — he is also doing a series of political ads airing in swing states — is a far cry from four years ago when Clinton’s wife, Hillary, and Obama were locked in a grueling and bitter fight for the Democratic nomination.
“That campaign-season animosity was accentuated by diametrically disparate individual styles,” the Post wrote. “Presidents 42 and 44, separated in age by 15 years on opposite ends of the baby-boom generation, have been called matter and antimatter, fire and ice, extrovert and introvert.”
The healing, however, began as soon as Obama was elected. He asked Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State and Bill Clinton concurred.
After the disastrous 2010 midterm elections the two met for a long chat that in turn led to joint appearance in the press room. The two shared a golf outing this past fall and spent the time talking politics, a conversation Clinton continued with former aides during a reunion in Little Rock, the Post reported.
Obama campaign advisers also met with Clinton in Harlem.
“They treated him like the political genius that he is, and he loved that,” one associate told the Post. “This was great. You reach out to him and he becomes invested in the cause.”
The bond between Obama and Clinton was further solidified during a joint fundraising event in Virginia in April where the two spent an hour in private conversation. “They were on the same wavelength,” McAuliffe told the Post. “You could feel the warmth.”
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