NY Daily News' Goodwin: Sen. Clinton "better put the muzzle and the leash on Bubba"
In his April 5 New York Daily News column, Michael Goodwin wrote that because Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) first-quarter fundraising total rivals that of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Clinton has "less room for error, which means she better put the muzzle and the leash on Bubba" -- a reference to Sen. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.
In a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 70 percent of respondents thought that President Clinton "will do more good than harm" for Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign.
Goodwin also claimed that Clinton "mostly ducks serious interviews as though she doesn't want to say anything controversial." In fact, on March 13, Clinton gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times about her position on the war in Iraq. Clinton's interview, according to the Times, is "the first in a series of interviews with the 2008 presidential candidates in both parties about how they would handle the issues they would confront as president."
From Goodwin's April 5 New York Daily News column:
So despite how Obama rocked her boat yesterday, and despite all the doubts, Hillary remains on course to get the nomination. It's going to be a grind and not as sure as it looked. And now there is less room for error, which means she better put the muzzle and the leash on Bubba.
But she can't get too cautious, either. The answer to the Obama cash is for her to sharpen her game and speed up her metabolism. She often looks like she's in a celebrity bubble, waving, doling out hugs and spewing platitudes like a visiting dignitary. There is no spontaneity, no raw energy for the quest.
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In a story by Arianna Huffington which in turns defends and points out defects in Bubba Clinton, she reveals that he was in L.A. recently, chumming with Ron Burkle, bag-boy billionaire, and attended one of those deep-pockets fund raisers that are "off the record." But she has "sources" who tell her;
Sources present at the off-the-record meeting tell me that during a Q & A session following Bill Clinton's speech, someone asked the former president about Hillary's support of the war.
Clinton became incensed and unleashed the kind of fury that former Clinton staffers tell me they are very familiar with.
Apparently Clinton directed his anger first at the questioner (indeed, the question itself as if it were impertinent and inappropriate), then at the whole crowd, which was startled at his vehemence.
Hit a nerve, Mr. President? He clearly recognizes that this is an Achilles heel for Hillary.
From this snippet we learn two things - one we suspected and one we already knew. We suspected that Ol' Slick would have a nasty streak and was capable of great anger - he just kept it for the most part out of the public eye. But he personifies the beer-drinking, TV-watching, trailer trash that beats up the wife if his steak ain't well done enough. So we now have confirmation that Willie does have a nasty temper.
We always knew that Hillary had a problem with her position on Iraq. The radical Left, who will be the ones who determine the next nominee are actively working against her and the reason they use is precisely what caused her hubby to explode. She's trapped on that issue and cannot escape. It will cost her a chance at the nomination and she knows it. I still think she will not run in '08 because of that one issue.
But she has a couple others too. Her philandering mate hasn't given any indication of letting up and it's just a matter of time before another scandal hits the Clintons. That is why the NY Times ran a front-page story on the state of their "marriage" and speculated on what Hillary might do. And Bubba, jetting around Southern California in Burkle's private plane well-stocked with young models, is still Bubba.
And then there's Willie's "just good friends" friend from Canada, Belina Stronach.
"She gives money to his pet projects and in return, he supports her projects, for instance, a children's hospital in Canada," Widdicombe revealed.
Stronach and her father donated money to Clinton's presidential library, and she nearly became an investor in his friend, JFK Jr.'s, George magazine, meeting with him just a week before his death.
And Belinda is no stranger to the limelight either. She's divorced from Olympic champion speed skater Johan Olaf Lass and currently has romantic ties to another politician: Canadian Brian MacKay. Still, there have been rumors of a romance between Belinda and Bill since they met five years ago at a charity event.
And you'll remember the recently completed Preakness race where the Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke down? Guess with whom he chose to watch the race?
Excerpted , for more go to:
From the May 23, 2006 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
MATTHEWS: Let's talk about the front page of The New York Times today, at the very top of the fold. I mean, it's right up there at the banner, the Clinton marriage, "For the Clintons, delicate dance of married and public lives." This is the most teasing story I've come across in The New York Times in a long time, the paper of record. Let me give you some quotes:
"Mr. Clinton is rarely without company in public, yet the company he keeps rarely includes his wife."
"When the subject of Bill and Hillary Clinton comes up, for many prominent Democrats these days, topic A is the state of their marriage."
"Bill and Hillary Clinton have built largely separate lives."
It's a complicated story, Bob, but why do you think your paper -- I know you don't put the front page together. Why did Bill Keller put this story at the top of the newspaper today?
HERBERT: Well, you have to ask Bill, but I can tell you that in my travels, people are really interested in the state of this marriage and, frankly, I think, you know, with Hillary's presumed presidential ambitions, the state of the marriage is going to actually be a factor in her chances of getting the Democratic nomination, and perhaps, you know, becoming president.
MATTHEWS: The question I have for you, Michael, is that I was up there in Philly today on your show -- it was great to be on your show. Let me ask you about this story. Without getting too much into the goo of this story, which I'm sure we'll get into at some point between now and 2008, here's the question: Why today, why did The New York Times break from the gate? We all thought this story would begin to evolve sometime after the election when Hillary gets reelected in New York, in all probability. We'd be talking about her presidential campaign and, of course, every aspect of her life becomes fair game at that point. Why do you think the Times broke from the gate? This is May 23.
SMERCONISH: I think that it's probably the one issue about Hillary that people are most interested in. If I were to open up the telephone lines in Philly and I were to question folks about the Hillary candidacy, this is going to be way up there, probably beyond Iraq. I thought it was significant that in a typical month, they spend 14 days together. You know what, Chris? Not me. I want to make clear, but I think there are a lot of guys out there married who are probably envious of that number.
MATTHEWS: Well, I'm not. Let me ask you this. Let me go back to Bob Herbert --
HERBERT: Neither am I, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We're back with radio talk show host Michael Smerconish of Philadelphia and New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. Bob, let me read you something from your newspaper again today. This story at the front, top of the newspaper, the very top of the newspaper, it's amazing, there it is at the top.
Quote: "Because of Mr. Clinton's behavior in the White House, tabloid gossip sticks to him like iron fillings to a magnet." This is The New York Times. "Several prominent New York Democrats, in interviews, volunteered that they became concerned last year over a tabloid photograph showing Mr. Clinton leaving BLT Steak in Midtown Manhattan late one night after dining with a group that included a Belinda Stronach, a Canadian politician. The two were among roughly a dozen people at a dinner, but it still was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages."
MATTHEWS: It was very carefully reported. Let me read you a quote from the Clintons -- the two, the senator and the former president. It's quite an interesting quote here: "She is an active senator who, like most members of Congress, has to be in Washington for part of most weeks. He is a former president running a multimillion-dollar global foundation. But their home is in New York, and they do everything they can to be together there or at their house in D.C. as often as possible -- often going to great lengths to do so. When their work schedules require that they be apart, they talk all the time." That's a very defensive, formalized statement, isn't it, Bob?
HERBERT: I mean, I really don't know. It sounds to me -- I read it, and I didn't look for a hidden agenda, honestly. I read that as --
MATTHEWS: OK. You don't think it's setting them up for a different lifestyle? I thought it was saying --
HERBERT: I read that as --
HERBERT: -- a reasonable, accurate depiction of what's going on.
MATTHEWS: Could it be -- to avoid all this kind of speculation that we're already involved in, and I take responsibility -- well, I share it with The New York Times here -- Michael, that what they're really saying, the official spokespeople for these two impressive people, is that they're saying, "Don't count on Bill Clinton living in the White House if Hillary gets elected. He's got to run a big, multimillion dollars -- they say, the spokesmen say -- foundation. He's got a lot of responsibilities up in New York City at his office up there, so don't count on him being like a househusband or a first gentleman."
SMERCONISH: No way.
MATTHEWS: Is that what they're setting up here?
Excerpted: For more go to the link below.
From the May 24 edition of NBC's Today:
KATIE COURIC (co-host): When Bill Clinton burst onto the national political scene, he promoted his wife Hillary as an equal political partner, saying two heads were better than one. They enjoyed some of the highest highs, endured some of the lowest lows as well during their years in the White House. But now that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is eyeing her own bid for the presidency, a lot of folks are asking, "Where's Bill?" More now from NBC's Norah O'Donnell.
O'DONNELL: The star of the Democratic party, Senator Clinton, in Washington this week busy talking energy policy, but coy about her own political ambitions.
HILLARY CLINTON [video clip]: We'll just have to let the future be the future, whatever that might turn out to be.
O'DONNELL: Even as the first lady-turned-senator weighs her own White House bid, the state of her 30-year marriage faces scrutiny on the front page of The New York Times.
HEALY [video clip]: There's probably no marriage that is as dissected as Bill and Hillary Clinton's. Will the baggage that he brings -- both good and ill -- trip her up in some way?
O'DONNELL: Since leaving the White House, the Clintons have led busy and sometimes separate lives. While she is in Washington, a power broker in the Senate, he is globetrotting to the tsunami-ravaged South Asia or talking AIDS in Africa.
BILL CLINTON [video clip]: My wife said to tell you hello tonight, but you know, she's a big time politician now.
O'DONNELL: It's rare that they appear in public together. And he says his goal is to help her politically.
BILL CLINTON [video clip]: I try not never to do anything that causes her any problems.
O'DONNELL: Advisers to the Clintons declined to talk about the marriage, saying only that the two work very hard to spend time together. But intimate details of their marriage have long been public. In 1992, they went on 60 Minutes.
BILL CLINTON [video clip]: I have acknowledged causing pain in my marriage.
O'DONNELL: They have dealt with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Monica Lewinsky. In her memoir, Senator Clinton admitted she wanted to wring her husband's neck for lying to her about Lewinsky. And said that "the most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York." Now the woman who first campaigned with her husband, touting a two-for-one presidency, may hope voters will judge her someday in her own right. For Today, Norah O'Donnell, NBC News, Washington.
From the May 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, with host Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: There was a front-page story in The New York Times today -- I assume you saw it -- about the marriage, the relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton. All of us remember what happened when he was president -- the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Lanny Davis, who was his special counsel, quoted in the article as saying this: "The conventional wisdom is that the relationship might hurt her -- all those old memories and scandals will be evoked. But I'm betting, and maybe this is wishful thinking, that that's not correct."
From the May 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: Back to you, guys, where I believe we're talking a little politics with a certain famous couple.
DOOCY: That's right. The Clintons. And, in fact, on the front page of The New York Times today they've got a big article -- let me --
E.D. HILL (co-host): There it is.
DOOCY: We'll all grab for it. Take a look right here. The headline is, "For Clintons, Delicate Balance of Married and Public Lives." It's interesting, it talks about how little time they actually spend together. On average -- remember, he lives -- he is a busy guy, he does have -- it seems like he spends most of the time in the Chappaqua house in New York. She's down in Washington. On average, they spend two weeks a month with each other. Although some months, like February of last year, they just spent one day the entire month together. And that day, Brian, was Valentine's Day.
HILLARY CLINTON [video clip]: Let people make their own judgments.
DOOCY: Thank you, Hillary. Brian?
KILMEADE: I didn't know -- it kinda scared me there to actually hear her voice. I though she was a guest. But yeah, that was a special day. But some are worried that the talk of their marriage is going to come up and slow them down. And for example, when Bill was cited leaving, I think it was an eating establishment, late with a bunch of friends, including a Canadian woman that he evidently is friends with, people started to panic, because he could make -- Senator Hillary Clinton could do all the great policy decisions she wants and be the strong senator she might be right now, but if the marriage starts coming into it, they feel like it could derail her campaign.
From the May 23 10 a.m. ET edition of Fox News Live with co-anchor Brigitte Quinn:
QUINN: Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in '08. But how will her marriage affect her chances of winning? The New York Times reporting some are worried swing voters could link Hillary in their minds to the sex scandals that plagued her husband in the White House. We're talking about that with senior White House correspondent for The Washington Times Joe Curl. Also with us, Margaret Carlson, columnist for Bloomberg News and Washington editor of The Week. Great to have you both here. Joe, to you first. Do you think that Mr. Clinton, if he winds up in the tabloids these days, does that hurt Hillary Clinton at all? Or do some people maybe say, "Well, they left that Monica scandal behind when they left the White House"?
CURL: Well, at the end of that whole debacle, polls definitely showed America was tired of that story, didn't support impeachment. But remember, Brigitte, these two are probably the most savvy politicians in the country. So they're going to work carefully, time this, coordinate everything that they do. One thing that was fascinating watching the two of them at the Coretta Scott King funeral recently. Bill spoke first and as Hillary took the podium, she was basically reading the speech. He had just given a speech just off the top of his head. She reached over, grabbed his arm, and pulled him back to the podium and kept him there. So they will work very carefully. I think there will be sometimes where she will look for distance. Other times she will bring him in, whatever is more politically expedient.
QUINN: Well, Margaret, he certainly is a public figure. I mean, just yesterday we were talking about some statements he made on global warming, and it seems like anytime you talk about a topic -- he talks about a topic like global warming, people say, "Aha, that must be a campaign strategy for Hillary." Can she separate herself from anything he says publicly?
CARLSON: You know, the two are inseparable in many ways. Has there ever been a more famous marriage or one studied closer than this marriage? And Hillary has turned into a great senator. But would she be senator were it not for Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky? I don't think anybody thinks so. And the irony now is that while that got her to the Senate, it might be Bill's private life that keeps her from winning the White House.
From the 11 a.m. ET May 23 edition of Fox News Live with co-anchor Gregg Jarrett:
JARRETT: Plus, the Clintons. Maybe the busiest husband and wife in America, but are they so busy with their public lives they rarely keep the home fires burning? An asset or a liability if Hillary runs for president? Keep it right here.
From the noon ET May 23 edition of Fox News Live:
JARRETT: Bill and Hillary Clinton may be the busiest husband and wife team in America. So how in the world do they balance their married and public lives? Joining us now to talk about it: Byron York, White House correspondent for The National Review, Eleanor Clift, contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and Fox News political analyst. Good to see you both. Eleanor, let me begin with you. I mean, it is -- and I'll hold this up -- front page in The New York Times, above the fold, big article. And it does quote people like, you know, Lanny Davis, [former Clinton chief of staff] Leon Panetta and so on and so forth. But the crux of it is, in some regard, the personal lives. How much of the Monica Lewinsky affair that led to Bill Clinton's impeachment is a political and electoral albatross that might hang around Sen. Clinton if she decides to run for president?
CLIFT: Well, I think this article interviewed 50 people, analyzing, discussing, dissecting the Clintons' marriage. And that's not good for Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects, because if she wants to run the country, she doesn't want a campaign that's going to be about her personal life and her marriage. And so I think that is the fear among Democrats who want very much to regain the White House, that they don't want a campaign that essentially is a soap opera. And so the Clintons, you can tell from this article and the comments of the people who are interviewed, are very much trying to separate their professional lives, and I think Hillary Clinton has made great headway in presenting herself as a very competent senator. She's on her way to win big re-election in New York and separating herself somewhat from the downside of her husband. Now, he also has an incredible upside, and --
CLIFT: You know, we can get into that as well.
JARRETT: Well, Byron, let me quote from the article. In fact, it's pretty blaring on the front page, third paragraph right here, quote: Bill "Clinton is rarely without company in public, yet the company he keeps rarely includes his wife. Nights out find him zipping around Los Angeles with his bachelor buddy, Ronald W. Burkle, or hitting parties in Manhattan." All right. So Byron, is Bill Clinton a political asset or a liability?
YORK: Well, clearly he is both in this case. But I think, you know, what -- if Mrs. Clinton becomes the nominee for president, if she became president, certainly there would be a lot of attention to all of this: Did they lead separate lives? What is their emotional baggage? And all of that stuff. But if Bill Clinton were to become the first spouse, as it were, it would be a totally unprecedented situation.
From the May 23 edition of Fox News' DaySide:
JULIET HUDDY (co-host): Welcome back to DaySide. The latest Fox News polls have Senator Hillary Clinton doing well against some notable Republicans in '08.
JERRICK: But what effect will the Clinton marriage have on a possible White House run? Some Democrats were reportedly a little worried about it. Should they be?
HUDDY: Brad Blakeman is a Republican strategist. And David Corn is Washington editor of The Nation and a Fox News analyst. Both join us now, as you can see, from Washington, D.C.
CORN: But two out of the three people you just had posted on the screen there running against -- possibly running against Hillary Clinton -- [Sen.] John McCain [R-AZ] and Rudy Guiliani -- they both went through divorces. Maybe there's something good here in the Clinton marriage that people can learn from. Despite the crises, they're still together.
JERRICK: Well, actually, they are still together. Brad, what do you think about that?
BLAKEMAN: Well look, more power to them. There is an old political saying that seems to be tailor-made for the Clintons and that is, "Politics makes strange bedfellows." You have a couple here who have gone through some pretty tough times, yet they have stayed together, and it's a unique kind of relationship that seems to work for them. So I'm not so sure it's going that it's going to be that big an issue. But what is going to be an issue is where Hillary stands on the issues when it comes time for her to announce her candidacy.
HUDDY: David --
JERRICK: So they are bedfellows?
HUDDY: Yeah, Michael, I knew you were going to say something about that. Dave, Bill Clinton is -- I mean, we've seen -- we all read the little gossip columns. And he's very active, he's out there on the social circuit and the parties and going to events and fundraisers and things like that. You know, doing a lot of good as well. He's not just out there partying. I want to say that. But does he -- will he need to tone that down as things start to heat up?
CORN: Listen, I don't think he's hanging out at the clubs at two in the morning in Manhattan.
HUDDY: Like Jerrick.
CORN: Yeah, who knows?
JERRICK: I saw him at the Hudson --
CORN: But you know, the Times story today said 14 days out the month they're together, which in terms of some -- I know couples who live -- who are bicoastal. Or I know -- I have some friends who have marriages, one lives in the United States, one lives in Europe. If they're spending that much time together, that's not such a bad thing for people who no longer have kids to raise together who are, listen, part of perhaps the biggest power couple in America.
JERRICK: But tell me a political candidate who has done -- who has that type of lifestyle?
CORN: Well, what type of lifestyle? You mean married to somebody who goes around the world trying to do something about AIDS? I mean, that's the thing. I think, Bill Clinton is out there -- you know, he could never stop moving as a candidate, as a president. It's not going to happen now. And as long as he doesn't get into trouble -- and we know what that means -- it's not going to be a liability that he's out there traveling a lot.
—J.K. & J.S.
All excerpted from: Media Matters
Clinton With Stronachs at Preakness: Funny Cide 'No Fluke'
by Ray Paulick
Date Posted: May 17, 2003
Last Updated: May 17, 2003
Former President Bill Clinton, among those packed into Pimlico's Turf Club on Preakness Day, predicted New York-bred Funny Cide, winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), would also win the Visa Triple Crown's second jewel.
"In deference to the junior senator from New York," Clinton said in reference to wife Hillary, "I'd better be for Funny Cide. But he ran a monster race in the Derby, and that win was no fluke. Four horses came to him and he put them all away. It was one of the best Kentucky Derbys I've seen in the last 25 years."
Clinton wouldn't provide an exacta selection, but he did say he disagreed with the oddsmakers who painted the Preakness as a two-horse race between Funny Cide and Peace Rules, the third-place finisher in the Derby. "There is a lot more quality to this field than some people realize," Clinton said. "I think we'll see a longshot in the exacta."
Clinton, whose late mother was an everyday fan at Oaklawn Park, was in the Turf Club's "power table," with Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach, Magna International president and CEO Belinda Stronach (Frank's daughter), and rock star John Bon Jovi.
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______________________________________________________________________________________The President In the Room
Hillary Clinton's Biggest Issue? A Certain Someone in Her Background.
By Lynne Duke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 17, 2006; D01
NEW YORK -- He stood far behind, hiding in plain sight, though his glowing white hair and ruddy complexion rendered him as inconspicuous as a face on Mount Rushmore.
The spotlight was not Bill Clinton's. It belonged, instead, to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as she celebrated her reelection victory.
So Bill stood poker-faced. He clasped his hands. He held his head high. He clapped when appropriate. He smiled ever so faintly. And he did not move. When Hillary offered thanks to him and turned around to acknowledge him, he did not step forward, did not step to her side. He stayed put, several feet away, as if taking pains to soak up not one ray of the spotlight he so dearly loves but that, now more than ever, must be hers and hers alone.
It was political Kabuki -- Bill Clinton, held in check -- on a night that some observers saw as the start of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Bill is poised to mightily help or deeply hurt his wife's White House prospects. Either way, his impact will be profound as he undertakes the unprecedented role of ex-president turned male campaign spouse to the first woman ever to have a serious shot at the presidency.
Yes, Bill can deliver political superstardom. He's a razor-sharp political strategist. He knows the institution of the presidency. His fundraising chops are unrivaled. All that is well and good -- perhaps too good, according to a September CNN poll, which showed his favorable rating higher than hers, 60 percent to 50 percent.
But there's the other Bill, the one who could be a massive and messy distraction. That Bill is the ex-president known for his outsize appetites and indiscipline, the Bill who still revels in the limelight, who runs with global jet-setters. He is prone to pop up in the press for even the smallest of curiosities, like being spotted at dinner with another woman -- bad news for an ex-president already infamous for marital infidelity.
If she runs, will voters focus too much on him? Will they remember too much of the national trauma known as "that woman" (Monica Lewinsky) -- and the presidential prevaricating, hair-splitting (what is"is," anyway?) and impeachment that followed? Can voters look at Bill without thinking of sex? If they don't think of sex, they'll likely think the word: "president," which may also not be such a good thing for the spouse who wants that title.
From now until Election Day 2008, the national fascination with the Clintons and their marriage will be central to the race. The media-industrial complex will again feed like hungry hounds on the Clintons, their past and future; on the Clintons and their mysteries; on power and politics as the Clinton lifeblood propelling her run against all odds.
She will face haters. She'll face sexists. There'll be folks who think she's power-mad, including some still queasy about what she knew and when she knew it when it came to Bill's marital indiscretions.
Look at the polls; opinions on her are strong and run the gamut. Gallup last month asked 1,003 respondents to state what comes to mind about Hillary. Thirteen percent said they disliked her. Ten percent said she's qualified to be president. Nine percent said she's riding Bill's shirttails. Eight percent called her strong. Six percent called her intelligent, and another six percent called her dishonest and said they didn't trust her.
With numbers like that, plenty of Democrats are asking: Can she win? So the last thing she needs is people asking, as they have in the media and at cocktail parties: Can Bill control himself during her presidential campaign?
Such a familiar circumstance, such a Clintonesque conundrum, which her supporters can only hope won't lead to a Clintonesque spectacle: Bill, the management challenge.
It's such a delicate subject that many people who know the Clintons well refuse to talk about it. If they do, they summon their most diplomatic selves when addressing it.
"I guess the best way to say this is that they're going to be watched very closely," says Leon Panetta, Clinton's former White House chief of staff. "I think the press and everybody around him is going to be watching to make sure that the same mistakes aren't made."
Discipline: That's the key. It was Clinton's struggle while in the White House, says Panetta -- to stay focused, to not respond to diversions or to provocations. That struggle is an essential aspect of Clinton's personality.
"Clearly, in someone who is probably the brightest and most capable that I've ever met in politics, that's the weak side," Panetta says.
And it's not just sex we're talking about. It's the need for attention, adulation; to play a grand role, make a sweeping impact.
There's something unbridled about Bill's neediness, this love of the crowd -- like the story about his trip to the World Cup in Berlin this year. En route to the stadium on a bus carrying several aides and donors, Bill told the bus driver to head instead to the Brandenburg Gate, the New Yorker reported. There, hundreds of thousands of soccer fans had gathered to watch a match on giant television screens. Uninvited, the former president mounted the stage where a rock band had been performing, and just stood there waving and thanking the crowd, which responded with roaring cheers.
Could Bill's hunger for the spotlight pose problems? You bet, says James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. Hillary will have to be careful not to be upstaged by him or lost in the glare of his global political stardom.
Thurber, called the issue of Bill "a central question to her candidacy."
For starters, he said: "You have to be very careful in terms of Bill Clinton taking the headlines. So one way you do it is use him behind the scenes, to bring in money to your campaign through closed events. And in my opinion, you rarely have them appear on the stage together, and if you do, you don't have him speak."
Her campaign strategists also have to be "very careful" about managing Bill because "he sucks up the air around everybody when he's there," says Thurber. "And he needs to be loved. She is more self-assured, doesn't need as much adulation as he does. And that's trouble."
There are "so many barriers for her, alone, and then add Bill in there and then add his infidelity to it," says Thurber. "Well, she doesn't want to be looking over her shoulder and having questions asked by the media about it."
But there will be questions aplenty. How could there not be? The Clinton marriage fell into political soap opera with the troubles of Bill's White House years, with nothing but question marks hovering overhead, for a time. Was he contrite? Had she forgiven him? Would she stay? The woman whose earlier assertiveness as first lady rankled some now was tagged with a new set of labels: Hillary the martyr. Hillary the steadfast, for sticking with her man. Hillary as Machiavelli, accepting marital humiliation as the price of power.Her 'Most Difficult Decisions'
She raised the subject in her 2003 memoir, "Living History," writing, "The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate." Rarely has she discussed that period since. As she has prepared to possibly run for president, questions about the marriage have bubbled to the fore again.
Earlier this year, both the U.S. and Canadian press ran stories about Bill's periodic meetings with a Canadian auto-parts magnate turned politician, Belinda Stronach. Both have characterized themselves as just friends since they met in 2001 at a fundraiser. But tongues wagged nonetheless, because of the baggage.
Folks around the Clintons believe -- or want to believe -- that Bill's indiscretions are a thing of the past, that he has faced his demons.
Since the Lewinsky scandal, Bill has received counseling for a sex addiction. He and Hillary have grown as a couple. She has burst out of her role as wife and first lady to become a politician in her own right. He has had a brush with death, in the form of his emergency heart bypass surgery in 2004. He has found his global calling as an active former president and is fully committed to helping his wife along her chosen path.
Despite all that, the subject of the marriage is too hot to handle.
"It's uranium-242," said longtime Clinton adviser and friend James Carville, earlier this year. "You pick that stuff up and it'll blow up in your face . . . I'll talk about anything. But I ain't gettin' near anybody's marriage, especially the Clintons.' "
But he did concur that Bill Clinton could require special management by her campaign strategists, because of his political stature.
"I think it is something that people are cognizant of," he said. "You could make a pretty persuasive argument that there's more good to come out of this than bad."
Asked how Hillary's presumed rivals might deal with the Bill factor, an aide to one of them said, "Everybody knows everything there is to know about the Clintons." The aide spoke anonymously to avoid any damaging blowback for the comments. "No one needs to point out to them 'guess what? Bill Clinton was impeached [after] having an affair' . . . It's obvious to everyone that her husband is a huge benefit and he comes with some baggage."
Spokesmen for both Clintons steadfastly refused to discuss the theory that Bill might pose obstacles should Hill, as the New York tabloids call her, run for president.
"He campaigned for her in 2000. He campaigned for her in 2006," says Howard Wolfson, a Hillary Clinton adviser. "In both instances, we found, as did many other candidates across the country, that his presence on the campaign trail was a huge boost."
In her first campaign, when he was a sitting president, her handlers found it necessary to carefully calibrate Bill's role -- just as they are likely to do should she run in '08.
Both Clintons declined to be interviewed for this article. Ditto for several members of her innermost circle, known as Hillaryland.
If she runs, her husband "will do anything and everything to support her," says Jay Carson, Bill Clinton's spokesman.
So get ready to see that Bill Clinton thing at work on the campaign trail, if she runs -- that charm, that way with the crowd, that charisma. With him, it's seems innate.Different Styles
The nation saw the contrast quite starkly during the nationally televised funeral last February of Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr. Bill spoke in the subtle cadences of the pulpit and seemed to reach right into the heart of the mourners, give expression to their feelings.
Hillary spoke more stiffly, with little hint of emotion, of a connection to the crowd.
Their appearance set off a wave of speculation about her style vs. his and how it would or would not serve her in a campaign.
"Of course I've seen the difference," says Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who prodded Hillary to run for the Senate back when she was still first lady. "But I never would think that anybody would say one would not shine as brightly. It's always been a team. I think that the personal problems have cemented that even more so than in other couples."
"I don't think there's any woman in public life that has such self-esteem and assurance as Hillary Clinton," Rangel said.
Theirs has not been a competitive marriage, but a complementary one, Panetta says. "I think that she knows he's got a lot of charisma and people pay a lot of attention to him, and I think she has always viewed that as an important asset not only because of the attention he gets and the guidance he provides, but also because it makes both of them larger than life."
They once called themselves the "blue-light special," offering "two for one" -- two leaders for the price of one, quickly dubbed "Billary." That was back during Bill's 1992 presidential campaign, when Hillary was the first professional woman, a lawyer, heading for the role of first lady.
The co-presidency idea got jettisoned pretty quickly. Campaign polls showed voters didn't necessarily want Clinton's wife acting as an unelected leader. The notion of the co-presidency gave rise to some of the early condemnations of Hillary as power hungry. And when, as first lady, she lead the failed charge for health care reform and wound up politically bruised, she retreated from major policy crusades, putting the two-for-one deal to bed.
And yet, today, the nation faces a combination that's far closer to the mythic co-presidency than their stature of yore.
"Most people say it's two for one," Rangel said of Hillary's prospective campaign. "Anyone would know that one of the most outstanding public officials in the free world is Bill Clinton. . . . To have the benefit of a former president and a person that has international respect as your partner, I don't see how it gets any better than that."
Some folks who know her take umbrage with the two-for-one idea. They say it denigrates her singular leadership abilities and suggests she's not up to the job on her own.
And it could confuse the public in a campaign in which the lines between the two Clintons would have to be clear. Her candidacy, not his; her presidency, not his; not a blue-light special; and certainly not an attempt at dynasty.
"The biggest challenge facing Hillary is: Can she convince the American people that they are not trying to build a dynasty, but rather they are trying to help improve the lives of people?" says Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist who chaired Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.
In the past several months, Bill has appeared to be her chief campaigner, publicly saying Hillary would be a great president, even better than him, because she would enter the White House with more experience.
It is in the nature of the Clintons and their evolved relationship, says Panetta, that Bill will subordinate himself and summon all his discipline, for Hillary's sake.
"This is the love and loyalty that they share in their relationship," Panetta said. "It's very genuine. And that's why I think he'll want it. He will not want to in any way jeopardize her chance to win the presidency."