Clinton later walked back that comment, but Republicans seized on it to suggest he was siding with the GOP on taxes.
Democrats hope Clinton’s seal of approval might also extend to constituencies Obama has struggled to win over.
A recent Fox News poll found a nearly 20-point gap among white voters for the two men — Clinton is viewed favorably by 61 percent of white voters, Obama by 42 percent. Among independents, just 46 percent have a favorable view of Obama while 64 percent view Clinton favorably.
Mindful of the former president’s appeal to those groups, the Romney campaign has tried to co-opt Clinton’s record as a weapon to use against Obama.
They’ve done so most notably in a TV ad claiming Obama has tried to strip the work requirements from welfare, which was a key component of the welfare reform law Clinton signed in 1996 and which remains one of his signature accomplishments.
Clinton released a statement saying the ad was “not true” — an assessment shared by independent fact-checkers.
It’s been an uneasy partnership for Obama and Clinton, two political heavyweights whose styles and political instincts often conflict. Tempers flared between the two in 2008, leading to accusations of race baiting and recriminations.
Clinton dismissed Obama’s claims that he was a stronger opponent of the Iraq war than Hillary Clinton, calling it a “fairy tale.” That angered some black leaders who contended that Clinton was diminishing Obama’s quest to be the nation’s first African-American president. Clinton denied the accusation.
Bill Clinton has enjoyed success and riches since leaving the White House, delivering paid speeches and traveling the globe doing humanitarian work on behalf of the foundation that bears his name. In 2010, Obama enlisted Clinton and Bush to lead efforts to help Haiti recover from an earthquake that produced widespread devastation.
• Associated Press Writer Julie Pace in Charlotte and AP deputy director of polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.