July 13th, 2010
04:24 PM ET
8 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. Jane

    Don't get me wrong cause I am Not a Clinton fan but there is a big difference in Bill and Barack. At least when Bill was president things were going well and the congress was working with him. Now we have an inexperienced community organizer in power and things are terrible, lots of hatred toward congress and the two political parties are at an all time low. I think Hillary is looking to run against Obama in 2012 and she will win the nomination. If anyone votes for the incumbent they are way out of touch. At this point Obama needs all the help he can get and trust me Bill is a wolf in sheep clothing.

    July 13, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Kentucky

    OMG, I thought Obama thought the Clintons knew nothing. Looks like he knows a winner when he sees one after all. Obama could learn alot from Bill Clinton. Mainly, how to be successful and have some guts.

    July 13, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    President Clinton will get voters informed on what's going on in Washington. Hopefully all that he emphasizes is that there is only one party in D.C. working for the American people and it's not the GOBP.

    July 13, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Steph

    I saw President Clinton was back in Haiti. Why wasn't Pres. W Bush there too? Aren't they working together to help with Haiti relief? Hmmm, maybe W is too busy cleary brush in Crawford...that's what he did for his 8 years in office.

    July 13, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. rachel

    I don't know how I feel about this. I know you will do it bill, but I don't think Obama will appreciate at it

    July 13, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Laura, Massachusetts

    Remember the days when Obama wanted nothing to do with Bill Clinton....now he needs the experience of the former President just to stay afloat.

    Remember its still the economy stupid.....

    July 13, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. pat

    If anyone can help Democrats in November, it is Bill Clinton. Good idea to get him in with the people and tell how his administration had to get things started again after Republicans messed up.

    July 13, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. Ron

    Are you crazy? Do you think Clinton wants to help Obama after the catastrophe Obama has been in only 18 months? I am a strong conservative and want to remove as many Democrats as possible in 2010. However, if the Democrats want my opinion (and I hope they don't take it) they should start distancing themselves from Obama as quickly as possible. They are going to lose a BUNCH of seats in November anyway so Bill Clinton should be helping prepare Hillary for a planned for 2012 (BTW, she should resign from her current position BEFORE the election in November otherwise when she resigns AFTER the election it will look political).

    Now don't get me wrong – I certainly don't want Hillary to be president either but if a Republican doesn't get elected at least Hillary appears to actually LIKE this country. Anything is better than a Community Organizer who couldn't lead a turtle off the road.

    July 13, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. ib

    Obama will learn the Clinton's will look only after themselves. They might help him now but don't be surprised if they turn on him later. Hillary still wants to be president and Bill will do whatever he can to see that happen. He misses all the power also.

    July 13, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. S Hills

    I really wanted President Obama to succeed and do just one major thing in his Presidency...alternative energy for instance. Instead he started listening to Clinton and I am disappointed in his Presidency. This is what I suspect, he listened to Clinton on the bailouts, listened to Clinton on the mandated Health Insurance 'reform', and listened to Clinton on the 'stimulus' package, and told him you have to "sell it to the country!" I for one wasn't sold anything...instead our 'grandchildren' they say are paying for everything....I knew it was a 'boatload of goods'.

    President Obama should have stuck to what he was saying on the campaign trail.

    July 13, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. Moby

    Smart political move. Clinton was a heck of a president. Obama is such a crazed idealogue he will never have the level of respect Americans have for Clinton. Clinton put the country first and listened to voters.

    July 13, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Hugo

    Too freaking funny, an impeached liar and an unimpeached liar, pillars of strength in the Democrap party!

    July 13, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    Anything they can do to distance congressional candidates from Obama, Pelosi and Reid will be a big plus. However, any candidate that voted for the Stimulus Bill and ObamaCare is starting out with 2 feet in quicksand. That's pretty much all incumbant Democrats, isn't it?

    July 13, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    Interesting! Didn't select Hillary as VP because you didn't want Bill in the White house. Now you need his help? I'm not a liberal so it don't matter to me, but the irony makes this worthy of comment!

    July 13, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. nini

    I have a hard time accepting Bill Clinton will help a Radical Socialist to be elected again.

    Or at least the Bill Clinton I voted for wouldn't have.

    July 13, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Eric

    I heard FIFA had also requested Bill Clinton visit South Africa for the World Cup because there simply wasn't enough scoring.

    July 13, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Steph

    Why don't all of you Republicans who complain that we blame everything on W ask him to campaign for your candidates?

    Yeeeaaaahhhh, I thought so.

    How do you spell failure? G e o r g e W B u s h

    July 13, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. Larry

    Dems would be fools not to use him. He's probably more popular now than he's ever been. Of course, eight years of Bush/Cheney will make just about anyone else more popular.

    July 13, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. key

    This administration has worked harder than any recent WH. People should be thankful for that Bush closed his doors to the public for a least two years before leaving office.

    July 13, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |

    Damn you Bill if you do help this creep.

    July 13, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |

    It's good strategy......Bill Clinton will go over well where Hillary DEMS reside........Being that the white vote (whatever that means) is sour on Obama right now, Bill Clinton can tell it like it is, w/o having to be politically correct.

    July 13, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. The Real Me

    It looks like BIll is whispering to Barak, "You owe me big time."

    July 13, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Kevin in Ohio

    If Obama is smart, he will do what Clinton did..... realize that the Republicans and conservatives were right and then take credit for it. But I doubt he is able to part ways with the left wing.

    I am sick and tired of hearing about "Clinton's" economic success, when, in reality, the economy was not turned around until 1995 when Gingrich and the republicans took over Congress and finally brought sanity and less government. And I am sick and tired of the "Blame Bush" crowd, when the economy did not start its slide toward the current depression until Pelosi and Reid and their cronies took over Congress in 2007.

    July 13, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Eric31m

    Don't do it, Bill. Remember the way he treated you and Hillary in the primaries. He's on his own now.

    July 13, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. Dean

    Fot all you Bush haters and Clinton lovers......Look up the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and see who really ruined the economy. And if Clinton had a "BUDGET" surplus how come our national debt went up every year he was in office?

    July 13, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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