Toronto Star

Bill Clinton bites nails as Hillary struggles

Battles to help wife rebound from Iowa loss

- SHAILAGH MURRAY WASHINGTON POST

AMHERST, N.H.— He’s no kid anymore, and it’s his wife who is attempting the comeback. But former U.S. president Bill Clinton looked and certainly sounded this weekend like a politician whose legacy is on the line. As New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned in Durham, barely mentioning her husband as she sought to rebound from her stinging Iowa loss, Bill Clinton blended a retrospect­ive on his long career with highlights from his wife’s résumé and assessment­s of where she stands on the major issues of the day. But for the most part, it was Bill Clinton on Bill Clinton, a weary warrior fighting against a powerful wave. His speech was sprinkled with phrases such as “the day I left office” and “based on what I believe.” He said of the other Democrats chasing the party’s presidenti­al nomination, “I like these people,” and he recalled how he had campaigned for both Barack Obama, of Illinois, and John Edwards, of North Carolina, when they were running for the U.S. Senate. “I’m not against anybody,” he said. But returning to the topic of Hillary, he asserted: “She’s the best candidate for president I’ve ever had the chance to vote for in my life.” After Hillary Clinton’s third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Thursday night, Bill Clinton flew to New Hampshire with his wife. He took up his separate schedule, hoping to reprise his “Comeback Kid” effort in a state he has long considered a political second home, but on this visit he has returned to a volatile political environmen­t that may have outgrown even the former president’s outsized charm. Facing in Obama a candidate with charisma of his own and a message of change, even Clinton advisers conceded that, of all the images the former president conveys, a fresh face is not one of them. Does Clinton himself sense this? At their joint event on Friday morning, Clinton scanned the crowd as his wife spoke, biting his nails. Although he was nearby during his wife’s conference calls and remains in constant touch with her, advisers said he had not come down on any members of her staff about the Iowa defeat. He did blame the news media, at least in part, for the Iowa outcome, contending that reporters have given a free pass to Obama, who won the caucuses by eight percentage points. But his message about Hillary was clear: “If you make her president of the United States, there is no limit to what she will achieve. She will make a great, great president.”

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