In an interview on CNN last night, former President Bill Clinton praised Donald Trump, a supporter and fundraiser of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. "Donald Trump has been uncommonly nice to Hillary and me," Clinton tells CNN. He later adds: "I like him. And I love playing golf with him."
Clinton's praise of Trump undercuts an Obama campaign focus of tying Romney to the controversial Trump. After all, former President Clinton, an Obama surrogate, and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are close to Trump. (In the same interview, Clinton praised Romney's "sterling business career," thus undercutting another Obama tactic of attacking Romney's credentials.)
Here's video and a partial transcript of the interview, conducted by guest host Harvey Weinstein, a major Obama bundler who has raised over $500,000 for the president's reelection campaign:
WEINSTEIN: "You know, speaking of un-cool, Donald Trump has a benefit for Mitt Romney. And I know Donald Trump to be a sane, smart businessman. But he has this benefit, Romney comes, and he talks about that birth certificate again. How do you put that out of the minds of the American public --"
CLINTON: "I don't know."
WEINSTEIN: "-- once and for all? And doesn't he realize how un-cool he is?"
CLINTON: "I don't know, you know, Donald Trump has been uncommonly nice to Hillary and me. We're all New Yorkers."
WEINSTEIN: "Me, too."
CLINTON: "And I like him. And I love playing golf with him. But the evidence is pretty clear that President Obama was born in Hawaii and this whole election should not be about any of these side issues. It really ought to be about the decisions that each of them will make on where we are and where we need to go. That's -- and it's a serious time. So I'd like to see the election turn back to that."
On November 30, Newt Gingrich sent out a fundraising letter promising to elevate contemporary political discourse and to lead “the kind of nuanced debate worthy of our national history.” Gingrich wrote: “The people who are standing with this campaign have rejected reality TV politics…”
The conventional wisdom is that the emerging Republican field for 2012 is a very weak one. However, like so much else in the topsy-turvy age of Obama, the conventional wisdom on this one is completely upside down. The idea of a weak GOP field is almost as ridiculous as a debate about a fifty-year-old birth certificate just as the economic recovery comes grinding to a halt. Almost.