Less than 24 hours after Bill Clinton delivered a full-throated endorsement of President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the battle for Bubba raged on over the airwaves and in the email in boxes Thursday.
Mitt Romney rolled out a television advertisement that makes the case that the 42nd president’s defense of the 44th president was more about “being a good soldier” than Mr. Clinton being head over heels about Mr. Obama.
The punch and counterpunch came after Mr. Clinton took center stage Wednesday at the convention and told the crowd that the nation is “better off” thanks to the policies embraced by the Obama administration.
The smooth-talking 42nd president, who left office in 2001 amid budget surpluses and a roaring economy, remains a powerful force in American politics.
A Gallup poll released this summer showed that two-thirds of Americans have a favorable opinion of Mr. Clinton, and it is generally accepted that Mr. Obama would have a tough time finding a better surrogate to help him make inroads with the white, working-class voters who are overwhelmingly swinging in Mr. Romney’s direction.
The Romney camp knows that, and has worked to draw clear distinctions between the economic track records of the two Democrats.
“As the economy gets worse, Barack Obama calls on Bill Clinton to help his failing campaign,” the narrator says in the new Romney campaign ad. The spot describes Mr. Clinton as a “good solider, helping his party’s president” and poses the question, “But what did Bill Clinton say about Barack Obama in 2008?”
Then the ad jumps to television footage from the 2008 campaign trail in New Hampshire, where Mr. Clinton, stumping for his wife, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, accused Mr. Obama of distorting his stance on the war in Iraq. “Give me a break,” he said at the time. “This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have seen.”
In the Obama campaign’s fundraising email, Mr. Clinton says that Mr. Romney and his allies will “spend — and say — whatever it takes to defeat Mr. Obama. “Even if they have to make it up,” he says, “like the phony attacks charging the president with weakening work requirements for welfare or the charge that he plundered Medicare, when in fact he added eight years to its solvency and closed the doughnut hole in the drug program!”