By Madeline Abadie
According to recent polls, Hillary Clinton is losing her ground in Iowa, with Bernie Sanders taking a close lead. For the past year, Hillary has been the clear frontrunner on the Democratic side, and her campaign has been working hard to prevent a loss in Iowa like in 2008. While Hillary has been travelling around the state holding rallies and earning support from caucus-goers, her campaign has deployed its secret weapon which it needs now more than ever: Bill.
At his second campaign stop of the new year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on January 7, hundreds of people filled the ballroom at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library to listen to former President Clinton campaign on behalf of his wife. Through praising his wife’s accomplishments while in and out of public office, and sharing personal stories about the two of them, Bill portrayed his wife as a human, not a stiff, political machine, and as a servant leader, someone who has spent her life always putting others first.
Clinton captivated the audience’s attention for around an hour, and did not attack Clinton’s opponents with the exception that it would be catastrophic if the Republicans took the White House and stopped the progress that Obama has made.
Speaking of his early relationship with his wife, Clinton described the time they first met in the Yale Law library some forty years ago. “If you’re going to keep looking at me and I’m going to keep looking back, we at least ought to know each other’s names. I’m Hillary Rodham, what’s your name?” Clinton said while receiving laughs from the crowd.
“I couldn’t remember my name, and in one way or another we’ve been together ever since,” Bill continued.
Though a lot has been said and speculated about the Clinton’s marriage throughout their public lives, it was refreshing to hear a real moment from their love story amidst the usual negative press that their relationship receives. Hillary has had an image problem since announcing her candidacy for president, but by evoking a vivid, real, and humorous story, Bill humanized his wife in an effective way which Hillary needs more of.
The former President applauded his wife’s work that she spent outside of public office fighting for others. He spoke of her going to work at the Children’s Defense Fund straight out of law school instead of accepting a job at a prestigious law firm. He told the crowd how she started the Legal Aid Clinic and brought the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters to the state of Arkansas while First Lady there, which other states later implemented after the success of the program.
Describing her accomplishments as a senator of New York and Secretary of State, Bill praised her for persuading the Chinese and Russians to agree to the sanctions on Iran. While Secretary of State, she negotiated the nuclear deal with Russia and Putin, which Bill says “is the only thing that has survived the deterioration with Russia.”
“From the day I met her to right now, she never touched anything that she didn’t make better. She’s the best change-maker I ever saw,” said Bill.
Getting Bill out on the campaign trail is a smart move for Hillary in gaining ground and support from Democrats in Iowa. Although there will continue to be attacks from the GOP, especially Trump’s comments saying that Bill’s indiscretions are fair game in the race, Bill must rally for support among his own base and motivate Democratic caucus-goers to choose his wife in the next fifteen days for a crucial win in Iowa.
Bill must continue to boast about the economic and job growth that occurred during his presidency to remind Democrats why they need someone like Hillary who shares the same policies and will bring the same prosperity to the nation as he did.
Before traveling to Iowa, I was skeptical about Hillary’s scandals, successes, and relationship with her husband. Listening to Hillary speak first in Council Bluffs, and then hearing her husband campaign on her behalf days later shifted my views on the Clintons’ and her candidacy. Sure, I might not understand nor will I ever know the truth about their relationship. But after listening to Bill Clinton speak about his wife, I know that Bill Clinton admires and respects his wife greatly. Maybe, Bill is just a powerful speaker and a skilled campaigner. Maybe, it’s the way he talked so lovingly about his wife which caught my attention. Maybe, it’s the way that he portrayed her as a servant for others, which brings to mind lessons and teachings that I have learned throughout my Catholic upbringing. However, whatever it may be, Bill Clinton is a powerful weapon for his wife. Some say his presence and statements hurt her on the trail in 2008, but if Bill continues to do what he did in in Cedar Rapids on January 7, maybe, just maybe, he can help lead Hillary back uphill in the last weeks before the caucuses.