Bill Clinton offers support to Obama

Bill Clinton offers support to Obama

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 6:53 pm
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Clinton on Tuesday offered to help Barack Obama win the White House, although what work he’ll do for his wife’s former rival remained uncertain. The Obama campaign is still smarting over some of Bill Clinton’s criticism in the primary race, while the last Democratic president remains a popular political draw. But before the two can work together, they have to speak. Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have taken steps to join efforts in the last three weeks — she met with him privately, endorsed his campaign and will campaign with him Friday. But the former Democratic president and the man running to be the next one haven’t talked since the campaign ended. Obama said the only reason they haven’t spoken is because Clinton is traveling overseas. He praised the former president and said he’s “looking forward to setting up a long conversation.” “He’s as smart as they come. He’s a great strategist. We’re going to want him campaigning for me,” Obama said Tuesday. Speaking to reporters as he flew from Las Vegas to Los Angeles for a fundraiser, Obama said he was not certain what Clinton’s role would be, but said he was eager to have the former president’s help and support. “I think that just having somebody who knows American politics as well as he does and continues to be such an enormous draw will be hugely helpful,” Obama said. “He’s got a great following, including among a number of my supporters.” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the 42nd president came up in a phone call between Obama and Hillary Clinton on Sunday. They talked about how Obama should connect with Bill Clinton in the future, Burton said. Bill Clinton extended his support to Obama for the first time Tuesday in a one-sentence statement from spokesman Matt McKenna. “President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States,” McKenna said. It’s not clear what Obama might ask him to do. The campaign wasn’t specific when asked. “A unified Democratic Party is going to be a powerful force for change this year and we’re confident President Clinton will play a big role in that,” was all Burton would say. Bill Clinton will not attend Friday’s rally with his wife and Obama in the symbolic town of Unity, N.H. McKenna said the former president is in Europe this week to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, give speeches and work for the William J. Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee issued a statement after her husband’s that didn’t mention him. “Senator Clinton is very pleased with how quickly the party is coming together after the primaries, and she will continue to do everything she can to unite Democrats behind Senator Obama as our nominee,” Elleithee said. Published in The Messenger 6.25.08

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