11 June 2008

Will Bill?

Following Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic endorsement of Barack Obama on Saturday she stood, basking in the admiration of her devout supporters, with husband Bill and daughter Chelsea.

After watching America’s former first family (and until about 5 days ago, the dynastic embodiment of the Democratic Party), I couldn’t help but wonder, will the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, be endorsing Senator Obama himself in the near future?

After all, former President Jimmy Carter has been backing Senator Obama for some months – without actually endorsing him until last weekend (although you could argue that President Carter isn’t shy about offering his opinion about anything – whether asked or not – these days.)

Back in 2004 in a highly charged and warmly received speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, President Clinton lavished praise on John Kerry and promised to do his utmost to ensure he defeated George. W. Bush in the November General Election.

What’s more, President Clinton, in his role as a party Super Delegate, will be casting a vote at the Denver Convention in August. Will he steadfastly continue to back his wife, as he is entitled to do so, (after all, Hillary has only suspended her campaign, so those delegates who do not switch their support to Senator Obama will still be seated on the convention floor) or will he lead by example and line up behind the nominee?

More to the point was Hillary’s endorsement on Saturday representative of a Clinton brand endorsement, or just her decision as CEO of Hillary for President Corp.

I personally would expect to see some sort of personal endorsement from the Bill Clinton and I think he and Senator Obama will be keen to work with one another.

Firstly, it is another step in healing some of the rifts in the Democratic Party. Many Clinton supporters feel that WJC was unfairly pin pointed as the person who sought to inject race in to the campaign.

Bill has publicly stated his anguish at the loss of affection between himself and the African American community. He had always reveled in their admiration and had hyped up comments pronouncing him to be the first black president.

Before the furore about the result in South Carolina, there was marked affection for the Clinton family. Whilst on the campaign trail in California, Chelsea Clinton made a scheduled stop at the Glide Memorial church in downtown San Francisco. The church, with a significant black congregation, erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation for the former First Daughter.

Being seen to work on behalf of, and passionately advocate for, Barack Obama will be the first step in reconciliation between the Clintons and the African American community.

Additionally, Obama will not be able to turn his back on the Clinton administration, mainly because, come November, his grass root campaign stump rhetoric will not play in swing states – he will have to tack to the centre ground – and that has traditionally been Clinton territory.

So, as they say, watch this space.

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