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NYT: Bill Clinton Finding ‘Less Spark’ In NH

From a shocked and disheartened New York Times:

In New Hampshire, Bill Clinton Finds Less Spark


January 7, 2008

DURHAM, N.H. — Is this what it would have been like had Elvis been reduced to playing Reno?

Former President Bill Clinton has been drawing sleepy and sometimes smallish crowds at big venues in the state that revived his presidential campaign in 1992. He entered to polite applause and rows of empty seats at the University of New Hampshire on Friday. Several people filed out midspeech, and the room was largely quiet as he spoke, with few interruptions for laughter or applause. He talked about his administration, his foundation work and some about his wife.

“Hillary’s got good plans,” Mr. Clinton kept saying as he worked through a hoarse-voiced litany of why his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, is a “world-class change agent.” He urged his audience to “caucus” on Tuesday for Mrs. Clinton, before correcting himself (“vote”). He took questions, quickly worked a rope line and left…

[T]here was a similarly listless aura at the previous stop, in Rochester. And again, on Saturday in Bow, at just the sort of high school gym that the master campaigner used to blow out. Only about 225 showed up in Bow — about one-third the capacity of the room — to hear Mr. Clinton hit his bullet points on the subprime lending crisis, $100 barrels of oil and how “10 of Hillary’s fellow senators have endorsed her.”

The crowd seemed very passive,” Arthur Cunningham of Bow said after the speech. “Maybe they were tired.” …

People with ties to the campaign said Mr. Clinton has been increasingly engaged in strategy, talking regularly to James Carville, one of the chief architects of his 1992 campaign. Mr. Carville said that he spoke “periodically” with Mr. Clinton and that they remained close friends…

Mr. Clinton’s presence is at the heart of the tricky two-step that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has been trying with mixed success — to convince voters that it is wise to reach into the past to change the future; that these old familiar faces can convincingly sell a “new beginning.”

As such, campaign advisers said, the riddle of “What to do with Bill” has perplexed Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, just as it did Al Gore’s in 2000…

Sheryl Crow’s “A Change Would Do You Good” plays over a loudspeaker before Mr. Clinton’s arrival. The song is, in a sense, the consummate Clinton anthem of the early 21st century, just as Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” was to the late 20th century. It is a throwback song, originating in the 1990s, that pounds home the refrain of “change,” over and over

One of the more striking episodes of Mr. Clinton’s return to New Hampshire occurred Friday at the end of his appearance at the University of New Hampshire. A woman voiced frustration to him about the “game” of candidates attacking each other.

“Why not just change the game?” said the woman, Carrie Sheridan of Guilford, Conn. She was paraphrasing a line from Mr. Obama, whom she said she would likely support.

Mr. Clinton replied that in a survey of talk radio hosts, he and Mrs. Clinton scored one and two on a list of figures who are “most vilified” — even higher, he noted, than Saddam Hussein.

“No one would like it better to end the vilification than me and Hillary,” he said, adding that they were vilified during their eight years in the White House.

The line scored scattered applause. But it also served as a reminder, fairly or not, of all the bitterness that the Clintons came to represent in the 1990s.

Mr. Clinton can be, to be sure, effective and persuasive. “I was leaning towards John Edwards,” said Rick Lamontagne of Durham. “But after hearing the president, I’d say I’m undecided again.”

“One thing I’m certain of,” Mr. Lamontagne added, “I wish Bill were running again.”

How the mighty have fallen. (Though, lest we forget, Bill Clinton only placed second in New Hampshire, which was enough to give birth to the media construction of the “comeback kid.” 

In truth, if Mr. Clinton is such a spectacular campaigner he should have at least won a majority in one of his Presidential elections. But he never did.

Furthermore, he has never been able to help any other candidate get elected.

But let the New York Times and the rest of the DNC owned media have their fantasies.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, January 7th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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