Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Has Bill Clinton found his voice?
--Julia Weinberg, 360 Associate Producer

To candidates' wives, Eleanor Roosevelt offered the following pearls of wisdom: "Always be on time. Do as little talking as humanly possible. Lean back in the parade car so everybody can see the president."

Ok, so not all of this holds up today -- the archetypal campaign wife has evolved dramatically. Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards have their own stumping schedules and rock-star rallies. But at the end of the day, it's still all about leaning back for the photo-op, right?

So what about Bill Clinton?

Hillary exalts in her newfound "voice." Will Bill find his again? He was absent from the stage theatrics last Tuesday night, when Hillary won the New Hampshire primary. Certainly no accident.

He's come under fire for calling Obama's claims about his history on Iraq a "fairy tale," and last month for criticizing the media for being too soft on Obama. Not to mention saying he opposed the Iraq war from the start -- critics note he publicly supported the 2002 senate resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Bill Clinton draws huge crowds and is a tremendous asset to his wife's campaign, don't get me wrong. But is it just me, or is there something off-putting about seeing an ex-president getting scrappy in a New Hampshire diner?

Former presidents have stayed politically active earlier in our history. In recent memory, however, Americans have grown accustomed to seeing ex-presidents as relatively non-partisan statesmen, international peacekeepers, ribbon-cutters, and authors; not dogfighters.

Yes, the 2008 campaign is all about breaking barriers and challenging political norms. And maybe it's time I give up on my rosy, idealistic notions about the proper role for past residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'm curious to hear what you think. Is it odd to see an ex-president re-enter the political fray? Do you think Bill Clinton has found his voice on the trail?

Send us your thoughts!
Posted By CNN: 10:29 AM ET
  8 Comments
Honestly I think Bill lets his ire get the best of him sometimes when it comes to taking up for Hillary. I think really he needs to be quiet and let her speak. I want to hear her explain her views on the issues not Bill or any one else. If she can't get in touch with the American people on her own than she doesn't need to be the president.

That goes for all of them really! I don't need to hear from their wives or workers I want to hear it straight from them.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 10:47 AM ET
I agree. We are not electing 'presidential spouses' (as much as they might like to day-dream and portray their positions as higher than 'spouse' of the president). I am left to wonder if Bill can actually stomach Hillary as a power to be reckoned with, worldwide, including the home of the President of the United States. I can't help but feel Bill will have a power-crisis and 'act out' (with a very publicly exposed illicit affair), in the midst of one of 'President Hillary's' domestic/world-scene crisis of the 21st Century--taking her mind and heart off the very pressing needs of the world at hand, just that split second it takes for mass destruction--as in the last Clinton years in the White House/Oval Office, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Queda. Give us more of the candidates and less spouses! Including Bill--I'm sorry Bill.
Posted By Anonymous InTheMix, Florence, AL : 11:45 AM ET
I think this is spot on -- its getting distasteful to see a former President bashing a fellow member of the Dem Party, and its turning off at least this Democrat!
Posted By Anonymous Emily, New York : 11:47 AM ET
I think Bill's forgotten who's running.

He needs to sit back in the car and let every see who the candidate is and keep quiet for heaven sake. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the majority of mea culpas lately have been due to remarks he has made!!!! His comments make him sound way too eager, almost as if he's thinking co-presidency. Almost as if he's thinking she can't do it without him!!

Don't get me wrong, I voted for Bill, I still even think he was a pretty good president,all things considered, but it's Hillary's show now. He needs to understand that and get back in the kitchen!!

Personally, I don't think she needs him at all. He should be relegated to glad handing and fund raising and leave the campaigning to the person who's actually going to have the job...maybe!!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Elma, New York : 12:55 PM ET
I don't find it odd to see an ex-president re-enter the political fray but in Bill Clinton's case I think he has to be very careful when speaking out... after all, he's not the one running for President.

Mindy
Surprise, AZ
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 1:38 PM ET
The Clintons should respect their own legacy by not running again. Why does Hillary want to be back in the White house? They had the maximum time allowed - 8 years. Is it not a house of pain for them?

Maybe there should be something in the constitution that prevents a President's spouse from running seeing as the two are one flesh. It's like Bill would have to run the country all over again.

If the Clintons go over seas to meet foreign officials, they may reach out to shake Bill's hand instead of Hillary's, forgetting that he's not the President but just the First Gentleman. That's another thing, as a former President, he is still respectfully called President. Would people have to address them both as President. America needs to start thinking about this. I can't see it happening. Bill wants to travel the world as a philanthropist and activist. He doesn't want to follow Hillary around for another round of criticism.

The Clintons should realize their strength is in supporting the next President to bring about change. They don't have to be in the White House to bring positive change to the nation.

Hillary is not a typical woman running for President. She is a First Lady. I would like to see a woman run for President without the help of a former President as her husband, but not until Barack Obama serves his full 8 years as the next President of the United States.

Ayanna
Atlanta, Georgia
Posted By Anonymous Ayanna - Atlanta, Georgia : 3:54 PM ET
Just like Hilliary Bill has no precedent to follow on how to act as a former President whose spouse is running for the same office he served in. I'm sure its hard for him to step back and let Hilliary fight her own battles, but he needs to do so. Fund raising and working on his foundation would be a good outlet for his energies right now while the rest of us learn about Hilliary and judge whether she is the one we want as the next President.

The only President that continued in public service after his term that I can remember from my history lessons was Wm. Howard Taft - after he was President he was appointed to the Supreme Court .

Bill is smart especially on politics; he will find his niche; I hope its in time to help his wife.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 5:57 PM ET
I don't think a former President should be out on the campaign trail saying "I'm going to win this campaign". One would think he's trying to be the President again...wasn't 8 years enough?
Posted By Anonymous brenda, wyncote, pa : 12:20 AM ET
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