Count on Bill Clinton to Give Charlie Crist a Helping Hand
Around the State
Now that he has the party’s nomination sewn up to take on Rick Scott, Charlie Crist can expect the help of leading Democrats including Bill Clinton.
The former president is headed down to Miami on Friday to help Crist. This hasn’t been Clinton’s first appearance in the race. Back in May, Clinton hit South Florida to help the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) raise money.
But if Crist can count on Clinton to help him out against Scott, Floridians should not expect to see another two-term Democratic president. To be sure, Barack Obama remains popular with his Democratic base, something Republicans didn’t quite fully realize in 2012. But Obama is underwater in most states, including Florida. After six years, Americans tire of most occupants of the White House and Obama is just the latest example.
Clinton scores points with Americans on a host of fronts. His eight years in office are still seen as the high watermark of the American economy. While there were some conflicts and military actions during his time in office -- Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia -- essentially the Clinton years were peaceful. Despite his personal failings and the impeachment effort that haunted his last years in office, Americans generally hold Clinton in high regard and he looks even better when compared with the two men who followed him in the White House: George W. Bush and Obama.
Of course, Clinton has other reasons to help out Democrats in Florida and other important states. Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 -- a position she was in in 2008 before Obama caught her. This time, the Clintons don’t want to be surprised by a primary foe, meaning Bill Clinton will be front and center as he tries to collect IOUs for his wife to cash in come 2016. This includes calling in political debts from the likes of Crist and other Florida Democrats.
Besides helping Crist, Clinton should also pitch in to help other Florida Democrats. Back in 2012, Clinton pushed Joe Garcia’s and Patrick Murphy’s successful bids to defeat Republican congressmen. With Garcia expecting a tough fight from Carlos Curbelo in November and Murphy looking like a rising star, Clinton could be back to help them out. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is an old Clinton ally and should be able to count on his support, and he might even pop up in North Florida where Democrats have high hopes for Gwen Graham against Steve Southerland.
But Clinton’s support isn’t enough to help a Democrat in a close race in Florida. Earlier this year, Clinton went to bat for Alex Sink in the special election for an open congressional seat in Tampa Bay. Jolly beat Sink out in the final tally.
Clinton also offers Republicans a chance to paint Crist as a flip-flopper. When he ran for the Senate in 1998, Crist, then a conservative Republican, was calling for Clinton’s impeachment in the aftermath of revelations about Monica Lewinsky.
Still, Clinton is much more of an asset than a liability on the campaign trail. Despite Obama beating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, the former president was a star for the Democratic ticket in 2012, giving a well-regarded speech at the convention and hitting the campaign trail.
As Obama continues to sink in the polls, look for Clinton to be front and center for Democrats across Florida. Clinton will help get Democrats out to the polls for former Republican Crist and won’t come with the baggage Obama offers.
Tallahassee based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.