(THE DAILY BEAST)
By Eleanor Clift
Politicians come and go but Bill Clinton is forever, or so it seems with the former president slated for a starring role at the Democratic convention next month.
His legacy is getting top billing in both the Obama and Romney campaigns. President Obama is running as the rightful heir to Clinton’s economic approach in the robust way that Al Gore should have but didn’t, and Romney is praising Clinton for being a “new Democrat” while saying Obama is stuck in the past with old-style liberalism.
Strangely enough, Clinton has become a touchstone for both candidates, along with the policies that helped produce a budget surplus and 24 million jobs. “What people remember most about Clinton—it’s not Monica, it’s economic growth,” says Jack Pitney, professor of American government at Claremont McKenna College. Clinton’s appearance at the Charlotte convention in a slot normally reserved for the president’s running mate will have a “multiplier effect” that will reinforce Obama’s policies and “make it clear the choice the voters have,” says deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
When Romney invokes Clinton, it helps with independent voters who have fond memories of the 1990s, says Pitney. “A lot of the high-decibel animosity toward Clinton has faded. Clinton is yesterday’s enemy.”