Eight years after Hillary Clinton helped unite Democrats behind Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, he’s returning the favor.
Obama and Clinton will make their first joint appearance of the 2016 campaign Tuesday in North Carolina, a state Democrats are eager to pull back into their win column in November. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump will hold his own event in the political battleground a few hours later.
The Democratic duo’s rally in Charlotte cements a new phase in their storied political relationship. They were bitter rivals in the 2008 Democratic primary but became colleagues when Clinton joined Obama’s Cabinet as secretary of state. Now, they’re co-dependents as Clinton seeks the White House once again.
Her chances of winning hinge on rallying Obama’s coalition to her cause. Obama’s legacy depends on her success.
Aides to both say the foe-to-friend story will be at the center of the Obama-Clinton show Tuesday. In his remarks, the president will act as a character witness for his former adviser, who is struggling to convince voters of her trustworthiness and honesty. There is no better politician to testify on her behalf, many Democrats believe, than the man who once counted himself among the Clinton skeptics but came around to be one of her biggest boosters.
“I think that he can be very helpful, particularly with Democratic voters and some independent voters who have doubts,” said David Axelrod, the chief architect of Obama’s 2008 race for the Democratic nomination against Clinton. “He can do that by sharing his own experience. They were rivals, they had their differences; that gives him some additional standing.”
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