Friday, January 25, 2008
Bill Clinton: Helping or hurting? Or both?





Candy Crowley
Senior Political Correspondent


Sitting in a college chapel in Columbia, South Carolina, in my usual morning role: waiting for HRC. Pondering The Bill Clinton Card.

On the one hand, if somebody's going to go after Obama, shouldn't it be HER, a.k.a. the actual candidate?

When he's the pitbull:

A) She looks like she needs his protection -- circa 1950 -- not so cool for a woman who wants to be commander-in-chief. She is woman. She should roar -- circa 1970.

B) Former presidents are supposed to be elder statesman. BC's off-the-rails pitbull thing is tacky.

C) The spectre of a co-presidency looms. As Joe Biden once said to me, "Can you imagine being vice president with him (BC) in the White House?" Or Secretary of State or National Security Adviser, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

D) BC is so strident vis a vis Obama, party operatives worry BC is doing permanent party damage.

He hurts her.

On the other hand:


A) He's her husband for heaven's sake, acting like a husband. It's not like their marriage is a secret. If she kept him chained to his chair in Chappaqua, THEN what would people say? Besides does anyone doubt she's a tough cookie?

B) When was the last time a former president's wife ran for president? Exactly. New role. New rules.

C) He's got a Democratic party approval rating of 89%; many democrats WANT him to have a big role.

D) Dems so lust for the White House, bygones will be bygones before June.

He helps her.

Pondering at an end.

HRC just took the podium, after cameo appearances from two New York imports -- Rep. Charlie Rangel and former New York Mayor David Dinkins, both African-Americans who said race is not an issue in the campaign, a frequent refrain now from camp Clinton.

Gotta Go listen, leaving you to ponder the Bill Clinton card.
Posted By CNN: 12:03 PM ET
  26 Comments
Candy,
I think that you are right. Bill's campaigning for Hillary does go both ways. In one sense he does talk alot of junk that does make people warry of what we would be getting into if they got the White House. And I do think that hurts her a little.

But on the other hand everything that he has said has really made people take a second look at Obama. And we have seen that he isn't that squeaky clean choir boy that he was made out to be. I think that helps Hillary alot.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 12:25 PM ET
I am wondering who is running for the Democratic Nomination, Senator Clinton or President Clinton? Are we looking at Senator Clinton as proxy for another President Clinton Presidency?
Posted By Anonymous Clay : 12:27 PM ET
Whether you like it or not, I guess President Clinton's tactic's are working. However, I think some of his success can be attributed to the manner in which Senator Obama reacts to the attacks. Honestly, the Senator's incessant whining about Bill and Hill is starting to get on my last nerve. Afterall, I don't want a President who does nothing but whine when he is attacked by the GOP Congress or, heaven forbid, an eccentric leader from another country (i.e. Kim IL-sung, Ahmadinejed, Putin). IMO Obama's camp needs to get over it, ignore Bill and move on. Is it any wonder John Edwards is looking better every day?
Posted By Anonymous Mary SLC, Utah : 12:34 PM ET
Hi Candy

In this election there has been an emphasis on being authentic, on showing who you are not only intellectually, but personally as well. To get down to the human level.

What could be more human than a spouse even though he's a former President helping his spouse? I'm glad to see that Bill Clinton will support his wife and their strong relationship. Like you said he has no precedent to follow; he has to do what feels right for him and her. I think he's an asset to her.

Its kind of ironic really. When Bill ran for President Hilliary made the unfortunate statement that she wasn't a woman like in the Tammy Wynette song - Stand by your man. But she did just that and now he's standing by and with her.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 12:38 PM ET
Well Candy, Im a Latino from california and my family , mom ,sisters , brothers and me have watched this election back east and to tell you the truth what the clintons different but not wrong. I guess in california with all are problems we have we try not to inject race into it! but.... as Latino we do watch how others are reacting to the clintons and in my family we feel it very unbalanced by both media and the party! Why is it so wrong fro a former president to speak out for a new president ? who said it was wrong ? If we start to go down that road and not allow Bill to speak out, then what are we a country which wants to take away are freedom of speech away or to say that a person who has held the highest office in the nation can not help with his own wife's election! America needs to get a grip! and for Latinos in california it even gets us more agitated to watch the country place blame on just the clintons especially bill!
Posted By Anonymous andy : 1:47 PM ET
Shouldn't the card he should be playing:
Is how he would benefit the "people" if his wife is elected for President. Instead he is attacking what he feels is a treat to his wife being elected. You don't see other candidates spouses out there doing the type of things Bill is doing. Is does not seem quite fair.

San Francisco, Ca
Posted By Blogger eugenia : 1:48 PM ET
Candy -

"A) She looks like she needs his protection -- circa 1950 -- not so cool for a woman who wants to be commander-in-chief."

This is a product of someone's overactive imagination. One of the most attractive things about Bill Clinton has always been his ability to not feel threatened by strong women. (In fact, I think it is this attribute that contributed to many conservatives - some of whom enjoy belittling strong women - holding him in such contempt when he first came on the national stage.)

And really... "off-the-rails pitbull thing"?? This 'Clinton as attack dog' meme is driven by the media and punditocracy (I'm looking at you, Carl Bernstein).

The other day, Jessica Yellin asked a horserace question, Clinton pointed out to her that the only thing CNN would cover of the exchange was him telling her this was the only thing CNN would could cover of the exchange and CNN proved him right by only covering his telling her that was the only part you guys would cover and this is him 'attacking' the press.

Doesn't the irony ever get to you? To say nothing of the hypocrisy?
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 2:31 PM ET
Thank you for bringing up all the good and bad points about Bill campaigning for Hillary. But you're right - he's her husband and he's acting like a husband. He takes offense when people lie about her or attack her.

Spouses and children have always been dragged along on the campaign trail. They have always campaigned for their spouse/parent.

Well, this presidential candidate's husband just happens to be a former president. So should he be banned from campaigning? If so, then Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards need to stay home and shut up, also.

Gotta go - watching CNN - the Monte Carlo Casino is on fire.

Barbara - Las Vegas, NV
Posted By Blogger Barbara : 2:51 PM ET
Amazing, we debate Bill Clinton defending his wife, but the headline on here talks positively about Michelle Obama out campaigning and speaking out for Barrack Hussein Obama. Thanks for being so fair. I hope that when Hillary becomes the enxt President whe remembers all this and refuses any interviews with these news sources that have slammed her!
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Selinsgrove, PA : 2:54 PM ET
Americans are learning from the past mistake of electing and re-electing the Bush-Cheney-Rove team.

If the Republicans nominate a candidate who has the morals and behaviour of Bush-Cheney-Rove, a majority of American voters will reject Republicans.

Intelligent Republicans are not about to do that.

If Democrats nominate a candidate who has the morals and behaviour of Bush-Cheney-Rove, American voters will reject Democrats.

When a democracy repeatedly elects leaders who will resort to almost tactics to grab power, it reflects very poorly on the morals and ethics of the citizens of that country. I most of us now understand the reality of that truth.
Posted By Anonymous Anne H 2323 : 3:07 PM ET
As Anderson has said in another context, "Nothing is written." Far be it from me to tell the Clintons what role each "should" be taking in the campaign. They are making history here and after it's all over, whatever worked was the right thing to do.

Personally I wish the media would drop this as a topic. I'd much rather hear about the candidates' positions on the issues than their campaigning style. Once the winner is in the White House, the campaign will be irrelevant.
Posted By Blogger Barbara in Culver City, CA : 3:44 PM ET
Campaigning for a spouse running for office is a normal part of American politics. What Bill Clinton is doing is not.

Not only is Bill Clinton supporting his wife, he is distorting his own record as President to make people believe a Hillary Clinton Presidency will be an ideal solution to the nation's problems and a return to good times.

An example is Bill Clinton's complete distortion of his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" military policy.

Electing Hillary Clinton will continue the divisive partisan politics that's ruled Washington for the past 20 years. These are different times and the problems at this time require different solutions.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:54 PM ET
President Bill Clinton would love to endorse and support Barack Obama all the way. But he's under house arrest by Hillary. He's been sentenced to work her campaign with no probation. He's beyond himself now. He's saying things he doesn't mean. He's playing a very rough game with a very nice man, someone he would like to be friends with and play golf with. But he knows that if he doesn't play this game, Hillary will beat him up when he gets home.

Ayanna
Atlanta, GA
Posted By Anonymous Ayanna - Atlanta, Georgia : 3:56 PM ET
First off, please stop assuming that all women want a woman presiden so much that we would be willing to vote for someone we don't like and don't trust. My gut says no way. It amazes me that a significant number of people state that they don't trust Clinton yet she is leading in the poles. Does this mean that we as a people are willing to put another person into office that we don't trust? What are we thinking? I don't trust either one of them and don't want to see them in the office again.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon : 3:57 PM ET
Candy

I am a little worn out with all three candidates(Hillary, Bill and Obama) done are talking about what the democrat party, the little people. At the start I was hopeful we would get back in the Whitehouse. But egos are first, we are somewhere down the road,no one is saying anything to the candidates. It seems like the same oh same oh. I will change parties before the national election. And by the way, seems like Hillary knew Obama slum lord friend before he did,there is a picture with him next to her and bill on the other side, sometime before President Clinton's election or after the election. Can you tell the truth about that?
Posted By Anonymous Toni : 4:19 PM ET
Last night you ran a story about Obama and Rezko and failed to highlight a couple of things.

First, while Obama is giving back tens of thousands of dollars that Rezko raised the fact that you left out was that Rezko served on Obama's US Senate finance committee and chances are he raised a lot more than tens of thousands of dollars for that race.

Second, Rezko was known to be under investigation when Obama entered into the land deal with him and Obama himself says it was a boneheaded move. If it was perfectly legal why was it boneheaded and why would Obama enter into a deal with someone known to be under investigation.

Third, he avoided the question/statement by Hillary at the debate about working for Rezko at his law firm. Hillary gets attacked for not being totally truthful and Obama says words matter so why did he not be honest and forthright if his associations with Rezko were all ok?
Posted By Anonymous Robert McDermott, Ny, NY : 5:27 PM ET
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Bill Clinton campaigning for Hillary. That said, there is so much wrong with the way he has done it. Bill Clinton, with the support and help of Hillary, has made Senator Obama the 'black' candidate in order to diminish his likely win in South Carolina and to gain more white support. This is absolutely shameful regardless of who it comes from.

I am a white Arkansan woman who supported Bill's election and re-election to the Whitehouse. What he and Hillary have done to this election will cause me to vote Republican this November if Hillary is the nominee.

Please, if you support Hillary, do not dismiss this sentiment as pro-Obama junk. I sincerely feel as if the Clintons have created an irreversible digression in what should have been a truly remarkable race.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR : 6:42 PM ET
In 16 hours I go vote for John McCain (I'll thankfully be in another country where CNN is only in Spanish on Super Tuesday). Then I don't worry about it again until the fall. I'm at the point where I don't care who helps or hurts. I'm just sick of listening to the whining and name calling and stupid emails (I received another HIllary joke last night) and media guessing games and dumbing down of America in this process. It was entertaining for a while. Now with Billary and Obama continually acting like preschoolers, the Republicans playing their own version of dirty politics lying about John McCain, and the media making mountains out of the proverbial molehills to try to boost ratings, it's all just bunk.
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Berwick, LA : 6:43 PM ET
Candy, Candy, Candy,

Took me awhile to figure out who BC is! (It's been a long day and I'm tired. Course it was a long day yesterday when it took me awhile to figure out who HRC was...)

I think BC is doing his best to help HRC but I think he should do it more on the QT.

Have a good weekend and I promise I will get some rest.

KSM
Temple, TX
Posted By Blogger Kay : 8:03 PM ET
Hey Mrs. Crowley,

I completely agree with you Bill Clinton has really got to stop. If he is acting like this, this early in the race I dread what the next four years will be like if Hillary wins. This is not supposed to be the Clinton tag team versus Obama. Furthermore, Bill Clinton has not only gotten nasty but he is just spreading horrible mistruths. I now understand what others said about the Clinton powerhouse, they are quite ruthless. It is time to put an end to this cattiness, it is certainly not working for me
Posted By Blogger Cheri : 8:28 PM ET
Hi Ms./Mrs. Crowley,
I do not agree with the fact that because he is her husband he needs to protect her. Are we not voting for/against HILLARY CLINTON?? I'm sure on the ticket it's not going to say Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards are not doing the same thing. They are not spreading flat out lies and untruths. As an ex-President and husband to a new Presidential candidate he should lay back more than the other candidates spouse because he is bound to get more media attention. He needs to realize that his wife is running...not the other way around.

Cherise` Daley, Uniondale, NY
Posted By Blogger Cheri : 8:41 PM ET
She is not a tough cookie. She is co-dependent, they are not changers they are enablers. I counsel woman in co-dependent relationships with, alcoholics, sex addicts, workaholics, and drug addicts. They have low self-esteem, they are insecure and they have poor judgement. They decisions are based on maintaining their relationship or image of one. They will do anything, lie, cheat steal and feel justified if it maintains the image of their relationship. I didn't realize how deeply flawed she was until she lost Iowa. She has to stand on her own two feet to lead a country. She obviously can not do that.
Posted By Anonymous RadhaKrishna : 2:11 AM ET
Go Bill Go Hill - all our family and friends we are HAPPY that they work as a team. When Bill was Prez we applauded that there was a smart hard-working woman by his side - who was just as interested in this country as he. We were very disappointed about the failed Domestic Health Care situtaion and are VERY happy that the team will have a 2nd chance to make those reforms. All of us are very excited that these particular democrats will be teaming up in the White House again. The office is held by ONE person - but, how wonderful to have a President with an extra arm ... most mothers is America today wish they had an "extra" arm. I say it's a wonderful comment on Bill's charactor that he is NOT afraid of a strong smart woman!!!!! ...Vote democrat!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Linda - Mile High City : 10:46 AM ET
As a registered Democrat and a supporter of the Bill Clinton years in office, I'm completely turned off by this Billary 2 headed monster. Granted we've entered into a new era of politics with a former first lady being a very viable candidate and Bill's place in this is unchartered territory. The mudslinging is business as usual and says nothing about the supposed "change" they want to represent. It's bad for the party in general and only helps the Republicans. How will Bill respond if infact Obama does get the nomination instead? Will he come out and endorse his party and use some lame excuse that he didn't mean any of what he is spouting now? I personally think he's crossing the line with his smear campaign. There are some of us who may have liked him before but are extremely tired of his new found ways. Overall I'm tired of this whole campaign and the way the media (CNN included) seems to have gone Entertainment Tonight style covering it. There are 3 Democratic candidates running, Edwards is still there but seems to get no attention. As a woman I am not voting for Hillary, she does not represent me and my feelings. She is a Washington insider and blows in the direction that opinion polls sway. That doesn't give me hope that she is strong enough to stand her ground, even will Bill as her anchor. I refuse to vote based on someone being a "first" anything. My vote goes to who I think would be best for the average American person/family regardless of gender, race, religion or what their spouse says.
Posted By Anonymous Angela- Cambridge, Ohio : 4:13 PM ET
I think that Bill can be a bit harsh at times and helpful at others for her. He is her spouse as well as the ex-president and he is using that to the best of his ability.

For me, personally, the think the thing that messed it up for her, is that she used to be on the board of Wal-Mart.

I used to work for them in Arizona when I was 19/20 before all of the info came out about them. I will not step foot near there because of it.

Everything you hear about them is true. They keep you under 40 hours so they don't have to pay benefits and they show you how to use the state system for the benefits they should be providing.

She says she wants to provide health care for all and other social programs yet she has proven to do just the opposite with her time at Wal-Mart.

I think that is her biggest liability and the reason more people will be moving away from her, not Bill.

Obama took the attack that both of them presented and he is still standing....there has to be something said about that.

Edwards also stayed out of the fray and tried to instill civility into the debate by getting back to the issues at hand.

I think we are done with politics as usual with the name calling, mud slinging and flip-flopping.

We want the facts and the truth so WE can decide for ourselves.
Posted By Anonymous Sabrina in Los Angeles : 9:12 PM ET
I don't know if Bill is hurting Hillary. But what I am sure is that CNN has assembled a bunch of political pundits who are supposed to be non-aligned to any candidates. I was stunned by the overwhelming anti-Hillary comments across the board---from Carl Bernstein to Amy Holmes(with the exception of Jeffrey Tubin). What's going on with CNN these days? With negativity-filled comments from these people against Hillary, how Hillary is not being hurt? Yes, blame Bill's lashing of the media's obsession of and being feverish messengers of negative news. Where is CNN's reputation as being the Most Trusted Name in News? It's a shame to see such a neutral news organization sinking to such low level. I am very pleased to see on one hand CNN's turning HD with all the high tech gismos but on the other, it's sad to see it's becoming an apparatus of partisan politics.
Posted By Anonymous lochukung : 11:03 AM ET
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