While Obama flew home to take command of the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, the campaign marched on Monday, with 66-year-old Bill Clinton trying to catalyze the youth vote in Florida.
According to The Guardian, Clinton’s pitch came down to issues that are hugely important to younger voters, but haven’t gotten as much play nationally: student loans and climate change.
The former president said that the student loan issue alone is reason enough to vote for Obama because he is making them more accessible and reducing the cost.
“That means nobody will ever have to drop out of college again because of the cost of a college education,” he said.
Clinton has been a campaign star since his lengthy, spirited convention speech, which made a better argument for the president’s re-election than Obama himself was able to manage. Clinton’s political resurgence and his conviction in Obama was not always so assured. In the 2008 primary campaign, the former president was chided for dismissing Obama’s victory in South Carolina as a Jesse Jackson caliber achievement. Jackson won the state in the 1984 and 1988 primaries, but never the nomination. Clinton then accused the Obama campaign of playing the race card and was captured on tape saying “I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?”
In other words, the two haven’t always been on the best of terms. The hatchet was rumored to remained unburied even after Obama financially bailed out Hillary Clinton’s defunct campaign, hired much of her staff and made her secretary of state. But at some point in the last four years, Bill Clinton became a star again.
He seems like an odd pitchman to a teenage crowd, but consider this: A college freshman, eligible to vote in his or her first presidential election this year, will remember Bill Clinton through the eyes of a 6-year-old; the last president before 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the housing crisis and the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression (enabled, ironically, by the deregulation legislation signed by Clinton).
Nostalgia is a powerful force. The word derives from the ancient Greek for “homecoming” and “pain.” The Obama campaign has been urging voters to move “forward,” but Bill Clinton, the president famous for his ability to feel anyone’s pain, seems to be saying if you vote for Obama, you can always go home again.
Clinton’s day didn’t end in Florida. He joined Vice President Joe Biden on the other pole of the country in Youngstown, Ohio, for another rally, this one targeting the working class.
—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer. Follow him on Twitter: @peesch.
Obama for America/Christopher Dilts
Former President Bill Clinton stumps for President Obama in Youngstown, Ohio, a hard-hit community in a state Obama almost certainly has to win to secure re-election.