July 13th, 2010
04:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama leaning heavily on Bill Clinton for election help

President Obama and Bill Clinton are putting together an aggressive campaign and fundraising schedule.
President Obama and Bill Clinton are putting together an aggressive campaign and fundraising schedule.

Washington (CNN) - Facing a bruising midterm election in less than four months, President Obama's aides are putting together an aggressive schedule to deploy President Bill Clinton at campaign and fundraising events in key states around the country in the weeks ahead, according to Democratic officials familiar with the plans.

"It's a no-brainer you would use one of the most talented politicians the country has ever had," said one Democratic official familiar with the discussions. "There are few as good at laying out the contrast with Republicans."

While there has been speculation Clinton might not be used that frequently because of lingering frostiness between the two presidents dating to the divisive days of the 2008 campaign, the two camps tried to put any such tension to rest in recent weeks at a quiet White House meeting between Clinton aide Doug Band and White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

Sources said Band and Gaspard met right after the former president's surprise decision in late June to buck Obama and endorse former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a hotly-contested U.S. Senate primary. Obama has already endorsed incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet in the Democratic primary and only learned of Clinton's move after the fact.

When Robert Gibbs was asked at the time if the White House would like to be notified of such an endorsement earlier in the process, the press secretary responded, "Before you guys? Sure."

In addition to smoothing things over at the White House meeting, Democratic officials told CNN the Clinton and Obama teams mapped out an ambitious schedule to get Clinton on the campaign trail as often as possible in between his foreign travels to such hotspots as Haiti.

"We want whatever we can get from him," said one of the senior Democratic officials involved in the conversations.

Democratic officials told CNN the White House specifically wants to use Clinton in key swing states where Obama is not particularly popular, such as Arkansas and Kentucky. In his home state of Arkansas, Clinton already helped Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat, survive an intense primary challenge earlier this year and will now be used to help save the incumbent in an even tougher general election matchup with Republican Rep. John Boozman.

Clinton will also be used in Kentucky, where the White House has high hopes of picking up a seat with Democratic nominee Jack Conway facing Republican Rand Paul, who has been engulfed in a series of controversies.

"I think he and President Obama will be a good one-two punch," added a second senior Democratic official.

The second official noted that Obama can not travel to every single Congressional district over the next four months, and there are some specific regions where Obama would not go over well but Clinton could play better. Clinton recently campaigned tirelessly in Arkansas, a state that Obama lost badly to Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in 2008, to help Lincoln survive a runoff.

In May, the former President also campaigned for Mark Critz, the Democratic candidate in the special election to fill the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha's Pennsylvania seat. Clinton got a lot of credit among Democrats after Critz defeated Republican Tim Burns, giving the party a shot in the arm in a difficult year.

Democratic officials also say that Clinton's campaigning could fit well into the narrative that Obama has been focusing on in recent days about how he inherited an economic mess from former President George W. Bush and now believes the midterm election is a choice between going back to failed policies or moving forward on policies that could help pull the U.S. out of recession.

"Let's not forget that Bill Clinton was the last Democratic president who had to clean things up after years of Republican rule," said one senior Democratic official. "Clinton made tough choices that created [budget] surpluses. He can go out there and say, 'Look, I've lived this.' He's got a lot to offer because it's like an eyewitness account to what the country will look like if Republicans get in charge - the obstruction, the investigations."


Filed under: 2010 • Bill Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. John D

    Old slick willie is going to get you out of the hole you got yourself in OBOZO! You are the absolute worst president ever!

    July 13, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Tony 140

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Bill is going to support Barrack Obama over his WIFE?????

    Who said : "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer". He's keeping Bill close and Hiliary good and quiet and busy in every third world country on the planet. If his poll numbers continue to plummet, and the Dems lose big in November, Hillary will resign and be on the campaign trail by Christmas. She can't wait until 2016 – too old.

    July 13, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. InlandEmperor

    Excellent move Mr President. It's nice to see that we have leadership in place....in contrast to whatever was there from 2001 through 2008. Please stay the course. America supports your fine efforts.

    July 13, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Curt

    It is amazing how so many fail to see how the GOP is totally against this President doing ANYTHING. It is obvious where their loyalty lies, and that is in there GOP pockets, and not this Country. At least the President, and the Clintons, have enough love for the U.S. to put it first.

    July 13, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. Clinton is the fox in the hen house....

    Hillary is going to run against Obama in 2012 and you know what, she's going to win big time against this phony socialist community organizer....

    July 13, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Shirley in California

    This is a bad idea. I really think the president needs to rethink this. There is no argument Bill Clinton is good on the campaign trail but I think Obama needs to rely on Obama. If the people vote for him fine – if not – then they deserve what they get. This is the worst idea to date.

    July 13, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. tcaros

    Obama needs to bring the troops home. Investigate 9/11 conspiracy with Bush and Cheney and CIA connections. He needs to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Gonzalez, Bibey, and Rumsfeld for treason and high crimes.

    We are waiting for him to do this.. and we remember his promises.

    July 13, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. Rang Tran

    I am tired of OBAMA, Time for him goes. We need a job not idea and promiss

    July 13, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Albo58

    This President is going to learn that dealing with Slick Willie is like riding a tiger...it's sort of fun until you want to dismount!

    July 13, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. cindy

    What we really need is a President that spends more time doing his job, at least TRYING to keep his campaign promises, and actually working FOR the American people (instead of the Mexicans and Muslims) than campaigning.

    July 13, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  11. AMZ

    Bill...campiagn for Hills 2012!!! Rotten dems throwing her under the bus but they are sorry now. I never thought it could get worse after the last guy...boy was I wrong...America from the frying pan to the fire. We are so divided as a country, racial tension on the rise due to the false use of the claims of if you do not agree you are a racist. Wen was the last time you heard someoneidentify themselves as an American first...no everyone justs says they are Dem or Repub ..seriously the elected ones with a D or and R behind the name are the same side of the same crooked coin. How and when did the majority ( the public) allow so few ( the elected ones) to rip us apart. Good for nothing all of them. VOTE 100% OF THEM OUT!!!

    July 13, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  12. Hugo

    I'm sorry, I just find this so hillary-ous, can't help it, just keeps getting better by the day. Is this the same Bill Clinton the Obama's accused of being a racist during the primaries? Is this the same Bill Clinton that continually touts his balanced budget surplus and neglects to point out that it was at the expense of our National Security and brought us 9/11? These two deserve each other and I am sure Old Beezlebub is just rubbing his hands together in anticipation of their final destination with him. At least they will have Congress to keep them entertained, a chorus of "God Bless America" played on gnashing teeth!

    July 13, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  13. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Why not! Clinton is the last President to leave us with a budget surplus, which by the way was erased in Bush's first nine months. Bush then went on to hand Obama the largest deficit in the history of the United States along with a crippled economy and an un-regulated Wall Street gone wild.

    July 13, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. Blaum

    Obama is in deeeeeep trouble...... he knows it and will do anything to help his cause.....

    One and DONE.... true story.

    July 13, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  15. BWB

    I wonder if Obama brought Clinton a cup of coffee when he asked for his help.

    July 13, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. Lois

    I wouldn't help him if I were Bill Clinton. I think Obama should do an LBJ and let Hillary take over. We need someone that is a hard worker, has experience and able to make a decision.

    July 13, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. jean

    heavy sigh – geez what a pair.

    July 13, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. malabar

    Hillary 2012 'eh?

    July 13, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. tanas

    Bill Clinton will appear to help Obama just enough and then fail to enthuse Dem voters. Hillary and Bill hope that Obama will step aside in 2012, or that he will be replaced by Mrs. Clinton as the nominee.
    The Clintons only help themselves and each other.

    July 13, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. Radiant

    I wish I had appreciated Bill Clinton more while he was in office. Eight years of Bush made him look like a god to me.

    July 13, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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