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Will Bill Clinton save Obama, or sink him?
The former president is joining President Obama in one final campaign push. How much of an asset will he be?
 
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign stop at the University of New Hampshire, on Oct. 3.
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign stop at the University of New Hampshire, on Oct. 3.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Next week, in the final days before the election, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton will campaign together in a last-minute sweep of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, all key battleground states. Team Obama is hoping to repeat the bounce it got from Clinton's blockbuster convention speech, in which he defended Obama's record in detail. Clinton has also cut a pro-Obama ad saying the president "got it right" by proposing economic policies like the ones Clinton used to create jobs and budget surpluses in the 1990s. Still, Clinton can be divisive, and some analysts say he's pushed failing strategies on Obama. Is the former president improving Obama's odds of winning a second term, or could he prove a liability?

Clinton might actually have hurt Obama: Bill Clinton's convention speech "may well have marked the finest moment" of Obama's campaign, says Matt Bai at The New York Times, but, earlier in the year, in one crucial way, "the 42nd president may not have served the 44th quite as well." Until spring, Obama had been portraying Romney as a flip-flopper, but, on Clinton's advice, shifted gears and started hammering him for being "too conservative." So when Romney abruptly moved to the center in the debates, Obama seemed "off-balance, as if stunned that Mr. Romney thinks he can get away with such an obvious change of course so late in the race." And, apparently, he can.
"How Bill Clinton may have hurt the Obama campaign"

If Obama loses, he'll have no one to blame but himself: "Clinton only made suggestions; Obama made the calls," says Paul Mirengoff at Power Line. Besides, "Clinton's advice was reasonable and probably correct." By following it, Obama nearly clinched the race. Then "Romney came roaring back thanks to the first debate." That happened because Romney was sharper and Obama couldn't defend his record, not because Obama was caricaturing Romney as a "horrid reactionary" instead of a flip-flopper.
"Bill Clinton — from savior to potential scapegoat in less than two months"

Bill Clinton can still help save Obama: "It's too late to quibble" over mistakes Team Obama has made, says Robert Stein at Connecting.the.dots. In the few days left, though, what Bubba "could still do better than anyone else suits both his talent and temperament — tie together the overarching issue of both the Presidential campaign and the battle against a Tea Party Congress." In a race this close, Clinton's help might be enough to push Obama "over the finish line."
"Playing the last Clinton card"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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