Bill Clinton, the husband of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, will “reemerge,” as CNN puts it, next week on behalf of his wife’s presidential campaign. The former president will headline a fundraiser in Chicago on September 17, the first of what the campaign says will be several events where Clinton will be raising money.
The announcement of Bill Clinton’s larger role comes at the same time speculation continues to grow that Vice President Joe Biden will enter the race to challenge Hillary for the Democratic nomination. One influential early-state Democrat, South Carolina’s James Clyburn, has even publicly praised Biden and expressed reservations about Hillary Clinton’s recent email scandals. Politico reports:
“Joe Biden has a lot of support in South Carolina, always has,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn, arguably the most prominent and influential Democrat in the state, especially within the African-American community.
“If he were on the ballot and the voting were taking place this coming Tuesday, I’d think that Hillary Clinton would still survive. But the election will not be this coming Tuesday, and if he were to get into the race at this point, it all depends,” Clyburn said. “People are really concerned about those emails.”
During Hillary’s unsuccessful presidential bid against Barack Obama in 2008, Clyburn had choice words for Bill’s style of campaigning in South Carolina, calling it “bizarre” and suggesting the former president was deliberately trying to play on racial divisions to defeat Obama in the Palmetto State. Clyburn even told the New York Times Bill had caused an “irreparable breach” between the black community and the Clintons. Then the House minority whip, Clyburn remained neutral in the primary, which was perceived by the Clintons as a tacit endorsement of Obama.
Clyburn later wrote in his memoir that Bill had called Clyburn in the middle of the night just after Hillary lost the South Carolina primary. “If you bastards want a fight, you damn well will get one,” Bill said, according to Clyburn.
Then as now, the Clintons believe victory in the South is key to Hillary winning the nomination. As both Biden and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders rise in relatively white Iowa and New Hampshire, the Clinton camp has taken to touting its “political firewall across the South.” In South Carolina and other southern states, the Democratic primary will be determined by how black voters decide.
But if Bill is taking a larger role in Hillary’s 2016 campaign, the “irreparable breach” could come back to the haunt the Clintons.