NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A subdued Bill Clinton offered a deeply personal endorsement of his wife’s presidential campaign Monday, telling voters that Hillary Clinton’s plans offer the best chance for the U.S. to achieve economic prosperity and a secure future.
The event marked the former president’s debut solo appearance for his wife’s campaign, part of a broader strategy to deploy Bill Clinton publicly in the run-up to early voting next month.
Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination in the state-by-state primary contests that begin in Iowa and New Hampshire next month. The Republican field remains crowded and unsettled, with several candidates looking to knock billionaire Donald Trump off the front-runner position.
In a wide-ranging address that took voters through Hillary Clinton’s work as a young lawyer in Arkansas, ways to combat heroin addiction, the political achievements of President Barack Obama and the failings of America’s 14th president, Franklin Pierce, Bill Clinton argued that the Democratic front-runner offers the best plan to restore “broadly shared prosperity.”
“I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done now,” he told several hundred New Hampshire voters gathered in a college auditorium.
His appearance comes after days of attacks over his impeachment and decades-old sex scandal by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
“I don’t really care about Monica Lewinsky other than I think that Hillary was an enabler and a lot of things happened that were obviously very seedy,” Trump said in an interview with CNN Monday. “I mean, he was impeached, for heaven’s sake. He was impeached over this stuff.”
So far, Bill Clinton has remained silent about Trump’s slams — following the lead of his wife’s campaign, which believes their candidate comes across as more presidential by rising above what they see as the Republican’s crass political tactics.
He spoke calmly and quietly in New Hampshire on Monday, methodically describing the issues he sees as motivating voters in the next election. Clinton warned voters that the next president could appoint as many as three Supreme Court justices and reverse the health care law and environmental programs of the Obama administration.
Hillary Clinton, her husband said, offers the best path to economic prosperity, dealing with social problems like heroin addiction and foreign policy that doesn’t undermine the American character.
Still, some of Trump’s attacks seem to have struck a nerve.
At a campaign event in New Hampshire on Sunday, Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien heckled Clinton about her husband’s sexual history, accusing her of enabling him to mistreat women.
“You are very rude and I’m not going to ever call on you,” Clinton snapped at O’Brien, after repeated shouted interruptions by the New Hampshire state representative.
Clinton supporters believe the attacks will backfire, particularly in the general election. Hillary Clinton had some of her highest approval ratings in the wake of disclosures about her husband’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.