It’s music to my ears. The more William Clinton intervenes on his wife’s behalf, the more people are turned off. For that I say: Bill – keep up the good work, he, he…
That is my talking memo. Now for the story:
Bill Clinton has finally succumbed to temptation and intervened personally to salvage his wife’s faltering bid for the White House, according to leaks from her secretive campaign team.
The exasperated former President has clashed with some of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisors over strategy, after their recent attacks on Barack Obama, her main rival for the Democratic nomination, backfired.
He is said to be increasingly impatient that a series of campaign blunders is undermining her once comfortable lead in the opinion polls.
The consummate campaigner, who had previously been kept away from daily campaign operations, earned the “Comeback Kid” tag when he resurrected his own struggling White House run in 1992. Now he is trying to pull off the same trick for his wife.
He went on the offensive on her behalf this weekend with his strongest attack yet on Mr Obama’s qualifications for office, and said that voters would be taking a “risk” if they chose him.
He is understood to be particularly frustrated that her chief strategist and polling guru, Mark Penn, chose to portray the former First Lady as the “inevitable” and “invincible” nominee – a strategy that Mr Clinton believes has failed to sell her merits as a candidate.
Indeed, in the frank new television interview, he said it would now be a “miracle” if she won the key first caucus state of Iowa as he attempts to re-position her in voters’ minds as a challenger, rather than running like an incumbent.
Mrs Clinton was forced to deny her White House run was in disarray on Friday when asked about the reports of campaign turmoil.
During the early months of the campaign, her aides had sought to keep her husband at arm’s length, aware of his popularity but fearful that he would overshadow her.
“Campaigning is in Bill’s blood but while the polls were looking good, he was able to hold himself in check,” a Democratic strategist who is in close contact with the Clinton camp told The Sunday Telegraph.
“But that’s all changed as the campaign has veered badly off course. He’s talking with her constantly and throwing out ideas about how to save this thing. He’s still convinced she can win, but it’s going to be tough.”
The latest opinion polls show Mr Obama extending his lead in the key first caucus state of Iowa and catching Mrs Clinton in New Hampshire, where she has previously enjoyed a comfortable advantage in the next state to vote.
Although Mr Obama continues to trail in national polls, the momentum from the early states often proves crucial in the nomination process – as it did for Mr Clinton in 1992.
In the latest embarrassing setback for Mrs Clinton, she apologised personally to Mr Obama after a senior campaign official argued that his long-standing admission of teenage drug use could be used against him in a head-to-head with the Republicans.
The Clintons are understood to have discussed an overhaul of her top campaign personnel last week but they decided that would give off the feeling of panic.
But the former president is behind the new mantra that Mrs Clinton is an “agent for change” as the campaign switches its emphasis away from previous efforts to portray an aura of invincibility and entitlement.
His latest public intervention also drove home the danger that his greater involvement in his wife’s campaign might draw attention to him rather than her.
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