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How Helpful Is Bill Clinton?

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(Note: I originally posted this on March 1st, but it’s even more relevant today…especially my advice to Obama about keeping Bill far away from the campaign trail.)

The common wisdom on Bill Clinton is he’s an invaluable asset to any campaign. Reasons given…he’s a beloved President, draws large crowds, draws large money, and it’s therefore assumed he’ll draw large support.

But let’s look at the record…

  • 2000: Al Gore virtually shuns Clinton and runs his own campaign against the son of a former President. Result? Chaos ensues. Gore wins the popular vote, but loses the electoral college. And while we all know how it eventually turned out, Gore had a legitimate claim that he won in 2000.
  • 2004: John Kerry embraces Clinton’s support and surrogacy after he wins the primaries. Result? He clearly loses both the popular vote and the electoral college against a widely reviled President.
  • 2008: Hillary Clinton allows her husband to vigorously campaign for her on the campaign trail, which is historic in and of itself. No two-term President has ever been such a fierce supporter in the primary season. Result? Hillary is most likely facing defeat very soon, and at the very least a mathematically impossible race for delegates against a virtually unknown Senator from Illinois. No general election for her.

So I’ll ask the question again: how helpful is Bill Clinton? Because it seems the more that he’s involved in a campaign, the worse a candidate does.

And of course there are other factors, such as a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, their policy platforms, their ability to respond to attacks quickly, etc.; but from all indications Bill seems to be a hinderance, not a help.

If Obama wins this nomination, he’d do well to remember this.