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'Tumbling Dice': When the Big Dog Called Obama a Big Gamble

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Tumbling Dice': When the Big Dog Called Obama a Big Gamble

Article excerpt

With Barack Obama only a little more than a month from taking office -- with Hillary Clinton at his side as chief of State -- it is amusing to look back, almost exactly one year ago, when Hill's Bill suddenly came out of the closet to try to throw cold water on the emerging Obama fever.

In my view, this was a real turning point in the campaign. Contrary to what many pundits predicted -- and at that point very few were picking Obama to win -- Bill would end up hurting (actually, dooming) his wife, not helping. As it turned out, voters did not want this particular two-for-one.

It all began on the night in mid-December when Bill appeared on Charlie Rose's late-night chat show. Here is how I reviewed it at the time.

**

In a surprisingly frank interview with Charlie Rose on his PBS show late Friday night, former President Bill Clinton declared that his wife was not only far better prepared to be president than her chief rival Sen. Barack Obama -- "it's not close" -- but that voters who disagreed would be rolling the dice if they chose Obama.

Repeatedly dismissive of Obama (which could come back to haunt the Clinton campaign) the former president at one point said that voters were, of course, free to pick someone with little experience, even "a gifted television commentator" such as Rose who would have just "one year less" experience in national service than Obama.

Clinton also said, with a laugh, "It's a miracle she even has a chance" to win in Iowa, adding he was not just "low-balling it." He said John Edwards might well win. He praised Obama's intelligence and "sensational political skills" but repeatedly suggested that, unlike his wife and some of the other candidates, he might not be ready for the job. Clinton pointed out that when he was elected president in 1992 at about the same age as Obama, he was the "senior governor" in the U.S. and had worked for years on international business issues. Viewers could draw their own conclusions.

Asked if Obama was ready to be president, Clinton passed: "Well the voters have to make up their mind." He added that "even when I was a governor and young and thought I was the best politician in the Democratic Party, I didn't run the first time. …

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