It's Bubba to the rescue for the White House, which is increasingly relying on former President Clinton to bail out Democratic candidates in this fraught election season. And with good reason.
A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows Clinton to be a more persuasive campaigner than President Obama among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
“Clinton is in a position to have at least a modestly more positive net impact on a House, Senate or gubernatorial campaign than Obama,” Gallup pollster Frank Newport reported.
Among Democrats, 53 percent said they were more likely to vote for a candidate supported by Clinton compared to 48 percent who said the same for Obama.
Independents, a key constituency Obama has lost over the past two years, also broke for Clinton, with 21 percent saying they would be more likely to support a Clinton-backed candidate and only 12 percent saying the same about Obama.
Even Republicans like Clinton more. Nine percent said they'd be more likely to back a Clinton-backed candidate compared to 2 percent who said the same of Obama.
“He's an effective voice for the steps that this administration has had to take to rescue the economy, to put ourselves back on a stable financial footing,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said of Clinton. “He's a tremendous advocate.”
Obama has trouble finding spots on the campaign map where his presence is helpful beyond fundraising, while Clinton is popping up in places like Kentucky, where he recently campaigned for Senate candidate Jack Conway.
The White House is deploying Clinton to key swing states where Obama's popularity is on the wane, including Southern states where the former Arkansas governor remains popular.
Clinton is in Florida this week drumming up support for Kendrick Meek, an African-American, Democratic congressman who is trailing in a three-way Senate race behind Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist.
“This is my 90th event I've done this election season,” Clinton told Meek supporters in St. Petersburg.
Clinton, who had his own midterm wake-up call in 1994 when Republicans won control of the House and Senate, has been warning Democrats about the consequences of another GOP takeover while urging them to give Obama's policies more time to show results.
“It's funny — Obama's detractors see him as too liberal, trying to do too much and taking the country in the wrong direction, and they probably thought the same about Clinton when he was president,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist at the University of Central Florida, where Clinton will headline a rally Wednesday.
Clinton also brings traits and skills to the campaign that Obama lacks. Where Obama is cool, detached and professorial, Clinton is tactile, empathetic and familiar.
While Obama's presidency sags under the weight of a protracted bad economy, Clinton's tenure was a time of prosperity — flush 401(k) accounts, lower unemployment and energy costs and a budget surplus.
Relations between Clinton and Obama have never been warm. After a show of mutual disdain during the 2008 primary, when Obama was eclipsing former first lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, the two leaders never moved beyond a wary thaw, at best.
But a humbler reassessment of Clinton's skills may be under way in the West Wing. Obama is currently reading “The Clinton Tapes,” a book by Taylor Branch detailing Clinton's troubles with Republicans, according to the New York Times.