A Bill Arrives In The Mail

(AP Photo)
Vaughn Ververs is Senior Political Editor for CBSNews.com.
It's not every day you glance at your e-mail in-box and see a message sitting there from a certain "Bill Clinton." Yet, there it was, arriving just after 11:00 this morning, an e-mail from the former president of the United States just for me. Well, for me and possibly untold hundreds of thousands of others.

The message was sent to the Clinton campaign's e-mail list, something anyone can sign up for at her Web site. All the campaigns utilize this tool for organizing, fundraising and message management and your in-box can get pretty jammed up on some days. Sometimes they are appeals made directly by the candidate, sometimes their spouse, children or high-profile supporters.

Today's missive is more noteworthy than most because it begins to demonstrate just how the candidate will use her husband. It's been a major topic of discussion among political junkies for months and continues to be a very delicate issue. Never before has the spouse of a former president run for the highest office in the land herself and this uncharted territory is rocky.

Some think Bill Clinton should be used sparingly in the campaign in order to avoid becoming a bigger story and possibly overshadowing his wife. That happened last year at a memorial service for Coretta Scott King where Bill simply overshadowed Hillary when they shared the stage. They haven't done so since.

Others believe Bill is a liability for different reasons, not the least of which is the constant reminder of the Monica Lewinsky affair. Still, it's hard to find a more effective campaigner and his popularity has grown out of office, especially among Democrats.

In today's fund-raising appeal, the campaign is not shying away from connecting the two political leaders. The picture included in the e-mail features Bill standing behind Hillary, arms wrapped around her. It begins with a personal touch from Bill:

Am I enthusiastic about my wife's campaign for president? You bet I am. I know her better than anybody on earth, and she's got the best combination of mind and heart of everybody I've ever known."
And it hints at a possible growing role in the campaign:
I can't wait to join Hillary on the campaign trail and talk to people about what a great president she's going to be. She is a tireless fighter and a brilliant born leader, and I have no doubt the American people will make her our first woman president.
It's an issue the Clinton campaign will have to deal with over the course of the entire campaign, first in the primaries, then in the general election should she win the nomination. In asking supporters to help raise "one million dollars in grassroots donations in a week's time," Bill Clinton is dipping his toe ever-so gently into the campaign. We'll all be watching to see where his involvement goes from here.