Bill Clinton finally backs Obama’s White House bid

June 25th, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 25 (IANS) Two weeks after Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential nomination race, former President Bill Clinton has finally announced his support for Barack Obama’s bid for the White House. But the announcement of support for his wife’s former rival ahead of a joint Obama-Hillary Clinton rally Friday was not made in person. A Clinton spokesman made the announcement saying he was committed to working for an Obama win.

The Obama-Clinton rally to project Democratic party unity will be held aptly in the town of Unity, New Hampshire, where the two rivals each received 107 votes in the New Hampshire primary. But Bill Clinton would be away in Europe and would not attend.

“President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States,” said spokesman Matt McKenna.

The Obama campaign welcomed Clinton’s declaration of support, saying: “A unified Democratic Party is going to be a powerful force for change this year and we’re confident President Clinton will play a big role in that.”

Later Obama himself told CNN that he and the Clintons will be “working closely together over the next couple of weeks to put together a plan.”

“They’re going to want to campaign actively on behalf of the Democratic ticket,” said Obama, “I am going to need them.”

“Bill Clinton is one of the most intelligent, charismatic political leaders that we have seen in a generation and he has got a lot of wisdom to impart,” he added.

Obama didn’t answer whether he’d spoken to the former president, but he did talk with Hillary Clinton on Sunday. Bill Clinton remains a hugely popular draw for Democrats and could help Obama, particularly in those working class areas where he has found it hardest to connect.

While the Obama campaign says it is confident Clinton will play a role in unifying the Democratic party, relations between the two camps remain strained. US media have described the mood between Clinton and Obama as tense since Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

During the primary battle, Bill Clinton made headlines when he described Obama’s record of opposition to the Iraq war as a “fairy-tale”, and when he accused Obama of “playing the race card”.

Observers say after their bruising primary fight, the Democrats must unite to maximize their chances of success against Republican John McCain in the Nov 4 presidential election.

Meanwhile, a new opinion poll suggests Obama is holding a double-digit lead over McCain among registered voters four months before the poll.

According to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, Obama holds a 12 point lead over McCain in a head-to-head match up, 49 percent to 37 percent. But when third party candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr are added to the list, Obama’s lead over McCain extends to 15 points, 48 percent to 33 percent.

The survey is the second in a matter of days to indicate McCain may face a sizable deficit as the general election campaign kicks off. A Newsweek poll released four days ago showed the Illinois senator with a 15 point lead.

According to a CNN analysis of five recent national surveys, Obama holds an 8 point lead over his presidential rival.

CNN polling director Keating Holland notes a substantial lead in June does not always lead to a decisive victory the following November.

“Historically speaking, when June polls show a tight race, the race usually remains tight all the way through November. But when June polls have shown a big lead for one candidate, that lead has often melted,” Holland said.

“Bill Clinton was leading Bob Dole by up to 19 points in June, 1996; Clinton won by eight. Michael Dukakis had a 14-point lead over George Bush the elder in June, 1988; Bush won by seven.

Jimmy Carter was up nearly 20 points in June, 1976 but in November eked out a two-point win. And Richard Nixon managed an even smaller victory in 1968 even though he had a 16-point margin that June,” Holland noted.

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