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Bill Clinton plays role of closer in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate illary Clinton, accompanied by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, speaks at campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
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DAVENPORT, Iowa — Bill Clinton played the charmer and the closer Friday night, telling Iowa Democrats that Hillary Clinton will always "make something good happen" as president.

Appearing with his wife for the first big joint rally of the 2016 campaign, the former president told fond stories from 45 years together and praised his wife for hard work and "hard-headedness."

"She's never touched a thing she didn't make better," Bill Clinton said. There were more than a few admiring murmurs through the crowd.

Presidents have great days and awful days and ordinary days, he said.

"And then it's just like your life, there are all the other days. You've got to have a president who's there for you on all the great days, all the awful days and who's there on every other day," Clinton said.

The Fix's Chris Cillizza previews the Iowa caucuses, looking at what the outcome could mean for both Democrats and Republicans. (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

He recalled that his wife grew up with a conservative Republican father and a liberal Democratic mother.

"Fortunately for all of us, she embraced her mother's politics and never quite gave up her father's hard-headedness," he said to delighted laughter.

Clinton helped his wife ask the boisterous crowd of 1,500 at a music hall to show up for Monday night's caucus vote, after a long day of campaigning separately across the state. The couple held hands briefly as the crowd cheered wildly.

Bill Clinton did not mention principal rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, also campaigning in Davenport on Friday, and he did not mention the extraordinarily tight race four days before the caucus vote. Polls show Clinton and Sanders in a statistical tie, after Sanders erased Clinton's once steady lead in the state that votes first and wields outsize influence on the race.

It was by far the largest and loudest crowd of recent Hillary Clinton events, and after her husband left the stage she delivered a peppier, more partisan version of her regular stump speech.

"I brought a pretty good warm-up act, didn't I? Hillary Clinton said when she took the stage.

Shouting for much of her speech, she told the crowd, "this is a job interview."

"I don't want to just tell you what you want to hear. I want to tell you what I will do, and I want you to hold me to it."

Bill Clinton will continue campaigning across Iowa all weekend, joining his wife for two more evening rallies that will also include the couple's daughter Chelsea Clinton.