Thursday 8 December 2016

Trump's taunts threaten to overshadow Clinton's return

Jennifer Epstein in Washington

Published 05/01/2016 | 02:30

Former US President Bill Clinton addresses a campaign rally for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Former US President Bill Clinton addresses a campaign rally for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

If the proliferation of lawn signs sprouting out of snowy lawns wasn't enough of a hint, Bill Clinton's return to the campaign trail in New Hampshire might be: presidential primary season is now down to the homestretch.

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After spending the first eight months of his wife's candidacy behind the  scenes, advising and fundraising out of sight of voters and the media, the  never-shy former president is upping his level of public engagement.

He headlined two rallies yesterday, in Nashua and Exeter, plus more across the US in the weeks to come with the aim of helping erase Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's neighbouring-state advantage in New Hampshire and grassroots appeal in Iowa.

Mr Clinton often jokes about having lost the campaigning skills he once had, but he's still sharp and works rope lines until each and every well-wisher has gotten a handshake and a selfie.

"I told somebody the other day, I'm not sure I'm very good at this anymore," he said, during one of just two political speeches he's given since the start of his wife's campaign.

While he at times struggled with message discipline during Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, the former president is widely seen by her staff and allies as a major asset, her "not-so-secret weapon", as she described him last month.

One person who clearly agrees is Republican presidential front-runner (and one-time Bill Clinton golf buddy) Donald Trump, who has spent the days since the former president's campaign plans were first announced, dredging up the sex scandals of the 1990s on Twitter and in media interviews.

Clinton campaign spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said: "Hillary Clinton won't be bullied or distracted by attacks he throws at her and former President Clinton." And Bill Clinton's history of defending his wife suggests he will at least slug back.

Irish Independent

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