Bill Clinton's campaign role unmatched in recent history
(CBS News) Former President Bill Clinton's 49-minute speech at the Democratic National Convention last week was so well-received that even Mitt Romney called it a stand-out performance that helped "elevate" the Democratic convention. Now the Obama campaign is hoping to keep that magic alive, dispatching Mr. Clinton on the campaign trail by himself this week on behalf of President Obama.
Mr. Clinton's campaigning, which includes solo stops in Miami and Orlando, Fla., may be unprecedented when it comes to campaign surrogacy from former or outgoing presidents -- at least in the last 100 years. The former president's stops are not only high profile, but also potentially very impactful, given the level of credibility he has with the public on the economy and job creation.
"Bill Clinton is probably the greatest single surrogate a candidate has had running for president in a long time, maybe in the whole 20th century," presidential historian Doug Brinkley told CBSNews.com. "And this year, it's all about jobs, jobs, jobs. Clinton has the record to match his rhetoric."
On Tuesday, Mr. Clinton will hold an event at Florida International University in Miami. Then on Wednesday, he makes a campaign stop at the Rosen Plaza in Orlando. At both events, the former president will discuss the choice between Mr. Obama's economic vision and Romney's. The Obama campaign argues that Mr. Clinton oversaw the nation's longest period of economic expansion by pursuing many of the same economic policies Mr. Obama is pursuing now.
"There's no one better than President Clinton to lay out the clear choice Americans face in this election between moving forward with President Obama, or falling backward with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who support the same failed policies that led to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher told CBSNews.com
According to Brinkley, the last time a former or outgoing president had the chance to make this much of an impact on the campaign trail was in 1908, when Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for William Howard Taft. Ronald Reagan, for instance -- another president with high job approval ratings upon leaving office -- went back to California after moving out of the Oval Office. Whether it was due to his age, his health or the speculated lack of enthusiasm he had for George H.W. Bush's candidacy, Reagan wasn't a prominent surrogate on the trail for his successor.
Clinton, meanwhile, hasn't had the opportunity in past elections to act as a prominent surrogate.
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