Raspy Clinton gives full-throated backing

2012-11-04 22:12

Concord - In a raspy whisper, Bill Clinton said words many Democrats never thought they would hear, telling a huge Barack Obama crowd: "I have given my voice in the service of my president."

So Clinton has - literally, with his exhaustive campaigning for a candidate he once disdained, and figuratively, by laying out a plain-spoken case for the current commander-in-chief, which Obama has sometimes struggled to match.

The ex-president, his white mane picked out by spotlights, was the warm-up act for Obama at a rally in swing state Virginia late on Saturday that was packed despite frigid temperatures, just three days before America votes.

An hour later, as Clinton's theme song Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac blasted into the night air, the business of placing his two-term Democratic legacy on Obama's shoulders was complete.

The joint appearances - Clinton introduced Obama in Concord, New Hampshire on Sunday - are the latest effort by the Obama campaign to catch a ride on Clinton's reputation for engineering nearly a decade of prosperity in the late 1990s.

They also highlighted the growing warmth between the two party giants, following tensions that flared when Obama thwarted Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

Bill Clinton "has been a tireless - and by tireless I mean he is also losing his voice - advocate on behalf of the president," Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Sunday aboard Air Force One, as the past and current presidents sat together in the front of the plane.

"Obama has enjoyed the growth in their friendship and relationship," Psaki added. "They have a really easy rapport with one another and that's been a really enjoyable part of the last couple of weeks."

Clinton has now done 28 events for Obama in the climax of the campaign, using his popularity to serve as a powerful advocate for the president.

Clinton's embrace of Obama, after a cool relationship in the first years of the younger man's term, has revived one of the great imponderables of US politics - what are the Clintons up to?

Some conspiracy theorists believe the former president and master campaigner is backing Obama so warmly simply to secure Obama's support should Hillary Clinton decide to make another run for the presidency in 2016.

Others believe that Clinton, grateful for Obama's choice of his wife as secretary of state, simply could not resist the call to action, to the frontline campaign politics he loves.