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Posted by on Apr 24, 2012 in At TMV | 10 comments

Bill Clinton’s New Role as Pres. Obama’s ‘Campaign Whisperer’

photo by Pete Souza

WASHINGTON – Politico nailed the headline in the most important political article of the day Monday, penned by Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin.

Team Obama has finally realized that talking about Mitt Romney as not having a “core” is a loser.

Anyone who has looked at his life, which I have, knows this is well off the mark. Romney has a deep, foundational core, which can be seen in his family life, his devout commitment to Mormonism, as well as the outreach he’s done through his church, which includes helping people.

However, there is nothing in the Mormon fundamentalist faith that is liberal or even centrist. It is a staunchly conservative doctrine with defined roles for men and women that are vastly outside of how the majority of Americans live. It’s also what allows Mitt Romney to embrace the Republican far right.

This reality is masked by whatever moves meant to get him where he wants to be, with Mitt Romney’s necessity to cater to the fringe right his most vulnerable point of weakness, because the American people are not moored on the right.

Of course former Pres. Bill Clinton would know the extremes are where Romney’s vulnerable, while also offering an opportunity to hit fringe right policies trumpeted by today’s Republican Party.

From Politico’s piece:

Barack Obama’s top advisers are making a mid-“core” correction in their attacks on Mitt Romney — with a little nudge from Bill Clinton, who is finding a niche as an Obama campaign whisperer and fundraiser.

Romney, senior advisers David Plouffe and David Axelrod intoned time and again, was a political shape-shifter who lacked any real moral or political “core.”

The slogan was the Obama talking point for months. But Clinton, echoing survey data presented by Obama’s own pollster Joel Benenson, quietly argued that the empty-core approach failed to capitalize on what they see as Romney’s greatest vulnerability: An embrace of a brand of tea party conservatism that turns off Hispanics, women and moderate independents.

Helene Cooper did a story in the New York Times on team Obama’s new strategy last week titled “In Strategy Shift, Obama Team Attacks Romney From the Left.” This is how it began:

So long, flip-flopper. Hello, right-wing extremist.

Followed by the fill-in”:

After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy, double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears. Senior administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign officials, all say their strategy now will be to tell the world that Mr. Romney has a core after all — and it’s deep red.

However, the Times missed former Pres. Clinton’s “campaign whisperer” role, which is the best characterization I’ve read to date on what’s been circling.

Bill Clinton’s role is critical, because there’s been no sense that Axelrod and Plouffe have gotten a clue how to run against Mitt Romney with a candidate that’s no longer about “change” and “hope” in anyone’s eyes. It begins with the lack of a campaign slogan. That there has been no mention of what Pres. Obama wants to do in his second term isn’t surprising, because if Pres. Obama came out and admitted he’s in on some form of entitlement grand bargain, his activist base would bail. It’s about defining his opponent as a choice people can’t afford to make, which is best made through Romney’s austerity penchant for the 99%, but not the 1%, with emphasis on his far right policy approach, not populism.

America’s had many wealthy presidents, but none wanted to balance the federal budget on the backs of people, which Mitt Romney telegraphs he would by embracing the Paul Ryan economic model.

“You can’t just keep changing these things around, they have to have more of consistent message or nobody will buy it,” Politico quotes veteran GOP consultant and the man who ran Jon Huntsman’s doomed campaign, John Weaver.

Considering that’s exactly what happened to Huntsman and Weaver, he learned the lesson the hard way.

Romney’s already Etch A Sketching his immigration stance, so Democrats need to get busy with their message. Mitt Romney wants to allow the government to force women to have unwanted medical procedures; he wants to tear Hispanic families apart; and double down on austerity, expecting the private sector to take over on multiple fronts, while drowning the government safety net in the oval office bathroom if he gets the chance.

Bill Clinton knows a deeply religious man like Mitt Romney, with a beautiful family, no scandal in sight, except the sin of being rich and not caring much how he did it, except to serve at the pleasure of shareholders, can’t be carved out as having no “core.” It also alienates the financial industry and big donors that the Big Dawg is now being tapped to reach, because Obama needs them to wake up.

Personal attacks also let a politician slip through the cracks on their policy extremism.

Pres. Obama wants a second term and former Pres. Bill Clinton beat Newt Gingrich at his own game, then beat back the right who tried to make a private consensual affair about something it wasn’t, utilizing what many have deemed unethical means through Kenneth Starr to do it, which was set up before Bill Clinton was in office by Chief Justice Rehnquist, something I talk about in the chapter of my book “Blaming Bill.” Yet, Bill Clinton survived to thrive.

The partnering of Barack Obama with Bill Clinton is long overdue and it could be something that will make a difference in the 8-12% of the electorate that will decide the presidency in November.

The rest will be about world events over which neither campaign or either big two parties have any control.


Taylor Marsh is the author of The Hillary Effect, which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, where it was 1 of only 4 books in their NOOK Featured Authors Selection launch. Marsh is a veteran political analyst and commentator. She has written for The Hill, U.S. News & World Report, among others, and has been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • dduck

    As a Rep, I am worried that BC is getting more involved. He is one sharp dude when it comes to politics.

  • dduck nailed it. Warts and all, William Jefferson Clinton is the best politician of the last, say, 50 years.

  • StockBoyLA

    Interesting that Bill Clinton is finally getting involved…. I remember during the 2008 primaries there was a lot of speculation how vocal Bill would be in supporting Obama’s general election candidacy and how involved he would be, because Obama had run against Hillary in the primaries.

    I can’t help but wonder if Hillary is setting up a possible 2016 run and Bill is now doing everything he can to get Obama elected. After all if a Republican become president now, then things become much more difficult for HIllary to run in 2016, since she will have to run against a sitting president. If Obama wins now, then the field is wide open in 2016. Let’s face it, Hillary isn’t getting any younger. 2016 will probably be her last chance at running for president.

  • zephyr

    The more WJC gets involved the better for Obama. Btw, Hillary will be younger in 2016 than Ronald Reagan was when he first took office.

  • bluebelle

    I think that Clinton has proven that he cares about the greater good in this country regardless of what his wife does or doesn’t do.

    Even though there was some residual animosity after the ’08 primary season, BC still went out and stumped for Obama, and he has helped out behind-the-scenes since then.

  • StockBoyLA

    Zephyr, exactly. Hillary is still young enough to be president in 2016 and run for re-election. If a Republican wins in Nov. then it’s a tougher battle to run against a sitting president in 2016. 2020 would be her next shot and a lot can happen between now and then.

  • DaGoat

    The question is can Clinton, who I agree is a very sharp politician and campaigner, make accurate judgments of a strategy for a candidate that is much much different? Obama is almost the opposite of the “later” Clinton, who polled low likeability but high marks on job performance. Obama is of course personally likeable to most but his job approval has been hovering in the high 40’s for a long time.

    In his first 4 years Clinton had an amazing turnaround. The first couple of years he was relatively unimpressive and when the GOP won the House the media was asking if Clinton was still relevant. Clinton was able to build on that and position himself as a counterbalance to the GOP but more importantly as a competent president. In contrast Obama has seemed to tread water the last year. Clinton was able to govern effectively and project competence, Obama not so much.

    Bottom line is Clinton could run against the GOP and show he was effective, Obama runs against the GOP and blames them for not being effective.

  • zephyr

    Let’s not forget, Clinton left a SURPLUS when he left office. When republicans got the helm again that all started heading south.

  • I still think there’s something there concerning Romney’s lack of character. He will say exactly what it is his audience wants to hear. Sure, the use of “core” is a loser, but there is still a useful attack to make on that issue.

  • slamfu

    All the Obama campaign has to do is maintain their own decent core messgage while remaining flexible enough to pounce on the inevitable material Romney will serve up on a platter as he tries to keep his base and cater to moderates/independents.

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