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BIG RISKS, BIG REWARDS AS BUBBA HITS THE TRAIL
America’s favorite Democrat will test his clout on the campaign trail today, and how it goes will have a lot to say about the results of this year’s elections and the arc of the party heading into 2016. In a textbook Bill Clinton play, the former president rolls into Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the daughter of one of his former campaign financiers. Grimes is hoping to knock off Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this fall in one of only two potential Senate bright spots for a party facing a very dark midterm forecast. It’s a perfectly Clintonian moment: high stakes, big egos, sex scandals, retail politics, old cronies, his wife’s ambitions and the long-simmering tensions with President Obama. With control of the Senate at stake and his wife no doubt eager to show the family’s continuing clout in states that disdain Obama, Clinton’s arrival is welcome news. But it comes at a cost.
[In India, certain elective offices are reserved for women only. Political families there have found a workaround, according to the WSJ: “It is an open secret that, in any political body here, many male politicians field their wives or other female members of the family in seats reserved for women, while they hold the real power in the area.”]
Wherever he goes, there he is - As Clinton arrives, Grimes is in a tight race and the junior senator from the commonwealth, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has made no secret that he believes Clinton’s past as a “sexual predator” should be germane to voters and candidates who accept his help. Clinton has a famously short fuse when it comes to any reminder of the scandal that led to his impeachment and disbarment. So that’s hurdle number one: For the former president to not pop off in Kentucky if confronted with Paul’s comments. As Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., can attest, Clinton’s bad temper can hurt the candidates the former president wants to help. But assuming that he behaves himself while he’s back on the trail, there are other considerations.