Obama, Bill Clinton unite to raise more than $3M

Former President Clinton and President Obama at campaign event at Waldorf Astoria Monday
Former President Clinton and President Obama at campaign event at Waldorf Astoria Monday
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Former President Clinton said just a few days ago that Mitt Romney is qualified to be president.

President Obama's re-election campaign wasn't happy about that.

But Monday night, the current and former presidents were side-by-side and on the same page.

The match-up started out as a rocky relationship, but it looks like they've grown to appreciate one another.

In New York Monday night, the two biggest stars in the Democratic Party appeared together.

"It's good to be back on Broadway!" Mr. Obama told one cheering crowd.

He shared the stage and spotlight with the former president. Out of office almost 12 years, his reputation now bathed in nostalgia, Mr. Clinton made the case for his fellow Democrat, stressing, "I don't think it's important to re-elect the president; I think it is essential that we re-elect the president."

Making the rounds of high-dollar fundraisers in New York, one of them headlined by rocker Jon Bon Jovi, Mr. Clinton and the president raised more than $3 million for Mr. Obama's campaign.

Complete coverage: Election 2012

He responded with a thank you, saying, "I could not be prouder to know him as a friend, and I could not be more grateful to him for taking time to be here tonight."

But things haven't always been so cordial. In 2008, when Hillary Clinton was battling then Sen. Obama for the Democratic nomination, the relationship was tense. Her husband, the former president, repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama's readiness to be president.

In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS at the time, Mr. Clinton asked, "When's the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?"

The one-time icy relationship has settled into a marriage of convenience. With Hillary Clinton's future in politics still a possibility, Bill Clinton needs to be a friend to all Democrats. And Mr. Obama knows Mr. Clinton can reach out effectively to voters, as he did in a recent campaign video talking about the president's decision to take out Osama bin Laden.

"When I saw what had happened," Mr. Clinton says in the ad, "I thought to myself, 'I hope that's the call I would have made."'

Both men took turns hitting Romney Monday -- even though the president momentarily forgot which Romney he was targeting.

"You know, George Romney. Uhh -- wrong guy! Gov. Romney!" Mr. Obama said, correcting himself.

The president accidentally referenced Romney's father, George, who was a governor of Michigan and who himself ran for president in 1968.

Mr. Clinton sometimes gets off message, as when he praised Romney as a job creator.

But team Obama says, "We benefit anytime he's out there."

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent