I watched last night’s democratic debate in Las Vegas and, in my opinion, Senator Clinton won hands down. No ifs and or buts.
On everything from policy toward Iran to divers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, Hillary was in command. She easily warded off attacks from an inexperienced Obama and an angry John Edwards.
Now there are only 50 days till the first caucuses in Iowa. One immediate decision facing the Clinton campaign is how much she should rely on her husband. In some ways he is an enormous asset. Bill Clinton is the most accomplished political campaigner of his generation. He is a formidable fund raiser. And his favourable ratings (partly because of his work on Aids) are higher than any candidate in either camp, including his wife.
On the other hand, there may be a downside to Bill being too visible in the Clinton campaign. He clearly overshadows his wife as a campaigner. He is simply better than anyone else at retail politics.
Last week he stepped up to the plate to defend his wife against what he called “ganging up” by her opponents. In many ways this is laudable but it could well give the impression that Hillary needs his help to protect herself. Surely this is at odds with the image Hillary is trying to project as the tough commander in chief.
When they are together on a platform, the crowds are reminded that through many matrimonial travails, Hillary stod by her man. But the fact is this reminder enrages many voters who think she should have had the guts to dump him.
Adding all this up, what do you think?
Should the Clinton campaign keep Bill up front or should they relegate him to the background?