Bill Clinton in the spotlight, on a short leash

Count on the former president to be tweaking and fine-tuning until the very last minute

by Luiza Ch. Savage

Former President Bill Clinton greets President Barack Obama at a campaign event at the Waldorf Astoria, Monday, June 4, 2012, in New York. (Carolyn Kaster/AP photo)

Barack Obama has been invoking Bill Clinton’s economic record on the campaign trail, in particular, to defend his plan to extinguish the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

“All we’re asking is that folks like me go back to the rates we paid under Bill Clinton – which, by the way, worked out pretty good. We created 23 million new jobs, we had a surplus instead of a deficit, and we created a whole bunch of new millionaires to boot,” Obama said this month in New Hampshire.

Tonight Clinton will be the star of the Democratic convention, making the case for Obama. The two men have seemingly made amends since Obama’s bitter primary battle against Hillary Clinton in 2008. Remember when Obama compared Clinton – unfavorably – to Ronald Reagan? Or when Bill Clinton dismissed Obama’s rhetoric as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” (And it turns out the distance between the two may have deeper roots. BuzzFeed today released audio of a young Obama criticizing Clinton’s rhetoric on values.)

But despite the apparent rapprochement, Clinton is not known for staying on Team Obama’s message. In June he criticized the Obama campaign for attacking Mitt Romney’s work in private equity firm Bain Capital, and praised Romney’s “sterling business career.”

White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said today that the speechwriting teams of both presidents  have “been closely co-ordinating on both the message and the content” of Clinton’s speech. He suggested that Clinton will raise parallels between himself and Obama:

“He has a unique background, and 20 years ago, when he was running, he was also facing a Republican — Republicans who wanted to give tax cuts to the wealthiest.  They wanted to slash benefits for the middle class, and he can really speak to experience on why it’s important to take the path that the President has laid out,” Carney told reporters.

But no one can be totally sure of what he’ll say.

  “As is true of President Obama, President Clinton will probably be tweaking it and fine-tuning it until the very last moment before he takes the stage,” said Carney.

Count on some breath-holding if he takes for the stage with an empty chair.

 




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Bill Clinton in the spotlight, on a short leash

  1. I prefer 1994 Obama to the current one.

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