The Washington Post

Obama loves Clinton at the DNC, but he needs an “Eastwood"

There’s a lot of discussion in the media and in political circles suggesting that giving a prominent role to former president Bill Clinton at the Democratic convention could be a mistake, as it might overshadow President Obama’s speech and other convention events.  But the Obama campaign leadership probably secretly wishes that Clinton could speak twice. 

As I said this morning, President Obama doesn’t need a convention at all. He doesn’t need three days of scrutiny of his record or three days where he is forced to speak rationally about his performance in office and how that would seriously contrast with a Romney presidency.  The president’s campaign is only suited for 20 minutes of scripted remarks from behind a podium, with rehearsed potshots at the Romney/Ryan ticket and staged audiences who will wildly applaud before his fast exit and sprint to the next city. 

Also, there is some faux anxiousness about what Clinton might say, and even suggestions that he might do something to begin to tee up a Hillary Clinton 2016 run for the White House.  All that is phony.  Hillary Clinton isn’t going to run in 2016; and even if she were, to run now wouldn’t be the time to do anything other than be a graceful Obama supporter, as the nomination would probably be hers for the taking.  Bill Clinton probably relishes this opportunity and enjoys all the hype and speculation, which just so happens to be exactly what Obama needs.  And nobody wants to do a better job and to have his performance celebrated more than Clinton himself. 

Honestly, the Obama campaign probably wishes it could have its own Clint Eastwood; someone to go off-script but not off-message and consume a full day of news. 

The last thing the convention planners want is for the media to have idle hours in Charlotte in which they would turn their gaze to Obama and the nagging question of whether we are better off than we were four years ago. The Democrats are debating that question among themselves, and nothing could be more damaging to the president this week. 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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