- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2020

When Joseph R. Biden’s top campaign advisers huddled to plot the rollout of key endorsements this spring, Hillary Clinton’s name flew under the radar.

The former Democratic presidential nominee has gone from being the face of her party to being persona non grata among Democrats.

“There is too much at stake to be fighting old political battles, which is why I think figures like Obama, Sanders, and Warren will play a great role between now and November,” said a major Democratic fundraiser familiar with the situation.

The omission of any mention of Mrs. Clinton illustrates how the former first lady and her husband Bill Clinton remain two of the nation’s most polarizing political figures.

“I fully expect Hillary to endorse Joe, and moreover, to play an active role in his campaign,” the donor said. “But this election is about the future, not the past.”

The Clinton brand took a devastating hit in 2016 after the former secretary of state made history as the first female candidate to be nominated as a major party candidate.

But then-candidate Donald Trump quickly tapped into an undercurrent of anti-Clinton sentiment among voters, parading out women who had in the past accused Mr. Clinton of inappropriate sexual behavior, egging on “lock her up!” chants at his campaign rallies and dubbing his opponent as the most corrupt presidential candidate ever.

The message helped Mr. Trump punch through the “Blue Wall” states of Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which had gone Democratic from 1992 to 2012, and Wisconsin, which had not voted Republican since 1984.

This time around, Mr. Trump and his reelection team are intent on keeping Mrs. Clinton in the mix. They see her as an albatross around the neck of Mr. Biden and down-ticket Democrats.

One of Mr. Trump’s most vocal advocates, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, seeking reelection this fall, alerted Republicans in a fundraising email that Mrs. Clinton was celebrating Mr. Graham’s Democratic opponent topping him in fundraising over the first three months of the year.

“Thought we left Hillary Clinton in 2016? Think again!” Mr. Graham said in an email last week.

“With Hillary jumping into my race, more liberals will donate to my Democrat opponent with the hope of defeating this “deplorable!” he said. “I can’t take on the Clinton Machine without you by my side.”

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said the Clintons and Mr. Biden have a “lot in common.”

“They are all swamp creatures and fixtures of the Washington, D.C., establishment,” he said. “And they took turns denying Bernie Sanders the Democrat nomination.”

Ms. Clinton tossed some more chum in the water earlier this year in a documentary about her career in which she said “nobody likes [Mr. Sanders]” and “nobody wants to work with him.”

After suspending his campaign this month, Mr. Sanders threw his public support behind Mr. Biden.

Endorsements of Mr. Biden from Mr. Obama and Ms. Warren came soon after.

The weaponizing of Mrs. Clinton could help explain why the Biden campaign hasn’t spent much time talking about a possible public endorsement from the former first lady.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 6% in 11 swing states.

Notably, he is polling stronger than Mrs. Clinton did at this time, with a 42% to 37% edge over Mr. Trump among all white voters.

The recent endorsements from Mr. Obama, Mr. Sanders, and Ms. Warren also enable Mr. Biden to project the sort of party unity that escaped Mrs. Clinton in 2016.

Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, said there is a “definite pecking order here” and said the Clintons will play “a limited and targeted role” for Mr. Biden.

Barack Obama is more popular than either Clinton, so it’s no surprise that he’s first in the endorsement line,” he said. “Obama’s standing is a compelling contrast for Joe Biden against the unpopular incumbent president.”

Mr. Bannon said Mrs. Clinton is a “mixed blessing” and will likely be deployed to help Mr. Biden court female voters.

Barack Obama will be the main attraction in the Biden campaign since voters would prefer a third Obama term than a second Trump presidency,” he said.

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