New York: With his poll numbers worsening, President Barack Obama needs to appeal to swing voters and independents and he is banking on some Bill Clinton razzle-dazzle to do the magic. But Clinton wasn’t always so supportive. Four years ago, while his wife now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton challenged Obama for the Democratic Party’s nomination, Clinton blasted Obama’s palpable lack of experience.
But a rapprochement between Obama and the Democratic Party’s elder statesman — affectionately dubbed “the Big Dog” by some Democrats — began in earnest with a late summer round of golf. It has now evolved into a relationship few would have predicted in the wake of the acrimonious Democratic primary fight of 2008.
Obama needs a strong endorsement from Clinton who came into office as the 1991 recession was subsiding and oversaw the subsequent smart recovery. Of course, there is a glaring difference between the economic boom times of the Clinton administration and the present rough economy.
But with Clinton by his side, Obama is hoping to ride a wave of mid-90s American nostalgia. It’s easy to see why Obama has cast Clinton in a starring role in the 2012 campaign: the former president sported 66 percent approval ratings in a CNN/ORC International poll conducted earlier this summer — the highest of any living president.
Clinton delivered a forceful defense of Obama’s first term at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, saying Obama has taken steps to turn around an economy left in shambles by the Republicans.
“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was pretty simple: We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in,” Clinton said.
“I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better,” Clinton said. “He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a more modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.”
The president is looking at Clinton casting a halo effect, but commentators will also pounce on the overt differences between the popular former president and Obama’s track-record. Unemployment fell dramatically between January 1993 and January 2001, dipping to 3.9 percent at the end of Clinton’s term. Clinton also averaged 3.8 percent growth in real GDP and turned government deficits into surpluses, at a time when Obama’s advisers project a $1.2 trillion shortfall in 2012.
In the most recent ABC News/ Washington Post poll, the Romney-Ryan ticket leads on key economic issues. Romney’s campaign is predicated on the idea that, as a successful businessman, he knows how to revive the US economy. And, Romney crucially has a seven-point lead among registered voters when asked who they trust more to handle the US economy. According to polls, almost 90 percent of Americans will choose the next US president on the basis of four priorities issues: jobs, budget deficit, health care and social security.
The number one question Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been asking disillusioned Obama voters is: “Are you better off than four years ago?” The Democrats struggled with a retort, until Vice President Joe Biden on the campaign trail said, “You want to know whether we’re better off? Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”