Sweet: Romney running against 2 presidents
BY LYNN SWEET Twitter: @lynnsweet September 6, 2012 10:34PM
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Updated: October 9, 2012 2:54PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Bill Clinton has Barack Obama’s back, and Mitt Romney has no one who can help him the way Clinton can boost Obama.
Romney is running against two presidents, not one.
Clinton hits the road next week, to the battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida, a campaign source confirmed Thursday, and it’s clear Clinton will turn his Wednesday keynote into the “Why Obama Needs A Second Term” stump speech.
I was in the convention hall Wednesday night when Clinton spoke — and the buzz all around was just how good he was in explaining all the reasons Obama should win re-election and his ability to take down the GOP in a few sentences. I’ll give you one just for a sample.
“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple, pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in,” Clinton said.
Clinton is a potent validator for Obama. He comes from the political center — no one ever accused Clinton of being a Socialist — and the former president is enormously popular with the Democratic base.
When Clinton talks about how tough it is to turn around the economy — and how hard it is to work with Republicans — there are few people in the world who have walked in his shoes to say he is wrong.
Romney gets no particular help from former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. President 41 is elderly and 43 — even if he wanted to take a profile in the 2012 Romney race — would serve only as a reminder of the Iraq War and this: The worse economic meltdown since the Depression occured on his watch.
Clinton, who knows irony when he sees it, embraced the Bushes in his speech as in, “Honored to work with both Presidents Bush on natural disasters” a quick pivot to his telling that through his foundation, “I’m working all the time with Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”
Clinton has been bolstering Obama’s candidacy for some time. But the relationship started off rocky, because there is, we all know, some history here, stemming from the bitter 2008 Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton primary battle.
Last April, as Clinon was stepping up for Obama, the Romney campaign started unloading the 2008 Democratic primary clips — the ones where Clinton was bashing then Sen. Obama as not ready to be president.
On Thursday, Romney’s campaign released a new ad, titled “Give me a Break,” highlighting Clinton’s 2008 Obama blasts, including this famous one on Jan. 7, 2008, in New Hampshire, when, in a discussion comparing Hillary and Obama’s records Clinton said, “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”
The Obama campaign knows that Clinton’s popularity makes him one of their most potent surrogates, even as the Romney team brings up their bad old days. Romney’s convention, campaign and candidacy has not yielded a powerhouse to do for him what Clinton can — and will — do for Obama.