Bill Clinton Enters the Race as a Clinton Campaign Weapon

February 8th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former President Bill Clinton is speaking out against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

Clinton's comments at a campaign rally for his wife on Monday at Manchester Community College were less fiery than his statements against some of Sanders' supporters the night before. However, he still went on the offense against Sanders, describing the Vermont senator as a less than pragmatic choice for the Oval Office.

However, among a certain segment of young voters, Bill Clinton's presence in the campaign is not swaying votes away from the Vermont senator.

Clinton students

At the Manchester Community College event — one day before the New Hampshire primary — students explained that while the former president's presence in the campaign served to bolster Clinton's credentials, it also deepened their view that a Clinton presidency would represent the dynasty politics they sought to replace.

"I definitely think it does speak to her experience because he's a factor in what she knows," said Claire Bilderback, a student who was sitting in the overflow area at the event.

"It just sort of reminds you how she's just going to be a continuation of what we've had and we don't like it," added Emily Beck, who was sitting nearby. "It doesn't really help persuade me to be on her side."

The two young women were leaning towards voting for Sanders.

Hillary Clinton

The former president told a crowd of supporters gathered on Monday that his wife was better suited to lead the country than Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, who has commanded a lead in the polls in the run-up to Tuesday's vote.

Sanders has also garnered a significant portion of young voters' allegiance, but Clinton warned young voters not to corner his wife's campaign as "part of some mythical establishment."

"We're grateful for all the Millennial young people who are supporting Hillary," he said. "They're just as mad as those others — they just understand that they have to translate that anger into answers and resentment into results."

NH Democratic polls

Michael Hathaway, a student at the event, said that while he anticipated voting for Sanders, the former president could be a useful tool to "boost" Hillary Clinton's approval.

"I think the use of Bill is smart; he still has an amazingly high approval rating," Hathaway said. "If you have a tool like Bill Clinton at your disposal, why wouldn't you use it?"

Bill Clinton

It's unclear what effect Bill Clinton's presence will have in New Hampshire ahead of the primary vote — let alone the rest of the campaign. In 2008, he was criticized for upsetting Hillary Clinton's presidential chances after making impassioned, controversial remarks about voters choosing President Barack Obama over his wife. It was a reputation that was revived on Sunday night, when he launched an attack against Sanders' supporters, characterizing their attacks on Clinton and her supporters as "sexist" and "profane."

In a dig at Sanders' revolutionary rhetoric, the former president continued: "When you're making a revolution, you can't be too careful about the facts. You're just for me or against me."