Bill Clinton to star at the DNC: Is Obama desperate?

One of the president's best frenemies scores a primetime speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention — and may wind up stealing the show

Bill Clinton will give a primetime speech and formally renominate President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, nabbing a role that traditionally goes to the VP.
(Image credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

President Obama's re-election team has tapped one of the Democratic Party's biggest stars, former President Bill Clinton, to give a primetime address on the second night of the Democratic National Convention — the spot traditionally given to the vice president or running mate, bumping Joe Biden to introducing Obama on the final night of the convention. Clinton, basking in record-high popularity, will make the economic case for giving Obama another four years, then formally nominate the president for re-election. "There isn't anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton," Obama chief strategist David Axelrod tells The New York Times. But Obama and Clinton have a "complicated and decidedly awkward political relationship," notes National Journal's Reid Wilson, and Clinton has famously gone off-message a few times this year. Is giving Obama's chief frenemy a big role at the convention a wise use of party assets, or a sign of desperation at Obama HQ?

Obama is getting desperate: Giving Clinton such a big role is a clear "distress call" from Team Obama, says Brit Hume at Fox News, and proof that "Obama is in deep trouble and he and his political handlers know it." With the race tied, economic growth stagnating, and Mitt Romney gaining ground, "Obama is clearly shooting for a big Democratic turnout in November." The problem is, Democrats aren't as fired up as they were in 2008. Clearly, the Obama campaign is hoping that calling in the Big Dog will change that.

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