Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton revealed something Americans have long since suspected, her husband former President Bill Clinton would want to run again for president.
Hillary divulged this nugget of information during her appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. Hillary believes that if Bill were to run against her she would win, something that polls prove could not happen. Nearly 15 years after leaving office and a scandal-filled presidency Bill Clinton is still much more popular than his wife.
In Hillary’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel, her former husband’s role in her campaign and she hopes presidency naturally came up. Fascination is high with the possibility that the first former president would return to the White House in a new uncharted role. Bill Clinton would be not only the first former president to see his spouse as the president, but the first man in what was the first lady’s role.
The question of what would Bill be called if she wins the election still perplexes the former first lady whenever she is asked. Hillary mentioned the possibilities laughing when mentioning them, “The First Dude, First Mate, First Gentleman.” She then questioned, “What do you call the male spouse of a female president?” Hillary seems concerned there could possibly be confusion if Bill is still called Mr. President, telling Kimmel, “Now, it’s a little bit more complicated with him, because people still call former presidents, Mr. President. So I have to really work on this.” Joking Kimmel, said, “The first president lady, would be a nice thing to call him.” Which Clinton responded, “I’m just not sure about it.”
Another topic broached whether Bill would run for president again if he could. In September
Hillary appeared on the entertainment news show “Extra” where they asked her if she considered Bill as her running mate. Clinton laughed at the question about the former president serving as her Vice President. Clinton responded, “He would be good, but he’s not eligible.”
When Kimmel asked if Bill would run for president again if he could, Hillary’s answer was similar, “I think he is a terrific campaigner. It would be fascinating if he were eligible to run again. The Constitution says he’s not.” Hillary admitted, “He would run again. I don’t want you to tell anybody that, but if he could, he would.” Clinton asked and answered if she could beat her husband in an election, Hillary said, “So if I were going to run against him, would I win?” to which she affirmatively and enthusiastically responded “Yeah!”
The Democratic frontrunner and former first lady also brought up another controversial topic, the former president’s role in her potential administration, one that sounds like the co-presidency they have been selling since 1992, with Bill’s first successful presidential campaign. Hillary told Kimmel the forme president would be an adviser, “I more imagine asking him what’s the best way to create jobs really quickly and get wages up. Because he did a really good job.”
The Clintons’ are repeating their strategy of promoting a co-presidency record, looking back to the 1990s and the strong economy that failed in Hillary’s 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential. The strategy seems to be received better this time around, especially since Hillary does not have stronger challengers competing for the nomination. The Clintons might try to replicate the co-presidency in reverse roles, but the Democratic frontrunner is kidding herself if she actually believes she could beat her husband in an election faceoff, poll numbers say otherwise.
A NBC-Wall Street Journal poll from this past March showed that the former president is the most popular person in politics. According to the poll, 56 percent of Americans have a positive view of the former president, while only 26 percent have a negative view of him; those are better numbers than his successors “George W. Bush (35/39) and President Obama (44/43).” That same poll put Hillary in the same running as her husband, and she cannot compete according to the poll. Only 44 percent of Americans had a positive view of Hillary and 36 percent had a negative view, and that was even before Clinton was embroiled in her email scandal.
As Clinton solidifies her inevitability for the Democratic nomination, her own approval rating has rebounded. After winning the first Democratic primary debate, Vice President Joe Biden deciding against a run, and her strong performance during her testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Clinton’s poll numbers have rose. In a recent national poll conducted by NBC News/Wall Street Journal and released on Nov. 3, Clinton is leading the small Democrats pack with 62 percent support, with 84 percent of Democrats believing she win the nomination, and 81 percent thinking she can win the 2016 election.
Still the American public including Democrats does not a favorable impression of Clinton with only 40 percent having a positive view, but 47 percent have a negative view. Hillary does not have high points when it comes to “being compassionate enough to understand average people” or “being inspirational and an exciting choice for president,” areas her husband has always excelled in, but she has failed to connect to the public.
Bill Clinton has maintained a high post-presidential approval rating with 66 percent in 2012 according to Gallup. Bill’s numbers remained high however, as long as Clinton takes a non-political role. In 2008 during Hillary’s first bid for the Democratic nomination, Bill was used as an attacker in chief, and went off script, so too did his approval rating numbers dip to 50 percent his lowest numbers according to Gallup since 2003.
Despite the bevy of scandals that plagued the Clinton presidency Whitewater, Troopergate, Vince Foster, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, Clinton was one of the most popular presidents in modern US history. His average approval rating for his presidency from 1993 to 2001 was 55 percent. The American public gave Bill his highest rating of 73 percent in late December 1998 just after the House of Representatives impeached Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice.
The Whitewater investigations, the sex scandals, the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit culminated in the president’s inappropriate affair with the 21-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s discovery of Clinton’s perjury and requesting others including Lewinsky to do the same in the Jones lawsuit depositions. The Lewinsky scandal put the nation through a rollercoaster of uncertainty for an entire year in 1998. Still Americans loved Clinton even though he lied to them about his involvement with Lewinsky giving him gains in the 1998-midterm elections and then his highest approval rating.
Not only did Clinton have a high approval rating as president, as time goes by after his leaving office so has his stock on the best presidents’ lists. Clinton saw his first top 10 ranking this past February when the American Political Science Association released a list of the best presidents in time for Presidents’ Day. The APSA’s 391 members in their Presidents & Executive Politics section are considered “the premier organization of experts of the American presidency.” The group responded to survey, and they placed Clinton in eighth place.
Hillary loses against Bill in the poll numbers, but he takes such a hit in the polls when he becomes political it becomes debatable after nearly 20 years from his last presidential campaign whether Bill could survive in this deeply partisan political climate. Clinton’s economic legacy is his best selling point, and most strategists believe Bill would do best on the campaign trail as “economic surrogate and explainer in chief.”
Democratic pollster Jef Pollock pointed out “The campaigner in chief is always more an asset than anything. He’s good for money, he’s good for strategy, and he’s good for turnout. That’s the holy trinity of good campaigning.” While Dave Beattie, another pollster believes, Bill is best at “paint[ing] the picture of a more equitable economy that reinforces voters’ existing perception of his strength as president.”
With Hillary’s high polls numbers and little competition for the Democratic nomination, Bill does not have to delve into a controversial role in her campaign. Although the former president has begun appearing on the campaign trail, his role has been mostly as defender for his wife. It remains to be seen what his role will be the general election and against whichever Republican will hold the nomination. Whoever, it will be the Clintons will be doing what they do best selling Bill’s presidential legacy and potentially another Clinton co-presidency.