Bill Clinton to play key role at Dem convention

Former President Bill Clinton will play a major role in the Democratic National Convention, delivering a prime-time speech and officially nominating President Obama.

The president’s heightened role in the September convention, reported by multiple media outlets, will be formally announced on Monday.

“There isn't anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton,” said senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod in an interview with The New York Times. “He can really articulate the choice that is before people.”

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The campaign believes Clinton can play a prominent role in touting the president’s economic record and resonate with the independent and middle-class voters Obama needs to woo to secure reelection.

Reports said Vice President Biden is expected to appear on the last night of the convention, ahead of the president’s own speech. 

Clinton and Obama have had a rocky relationship in the past, with the former president’s wife, now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, losing the Democratic primary to Obama in 2008. 

But the former president has become an important surrogate for Obama’s reelection bid, appearing at numerous fundraisers for his campaign, most recently last Friday, when the two crossed paths at an event in Virginia. 

Both camps have downplayed any lingering tension from the heated primary race between Hillary Clinton and Obama four years ago, but the relationship has not been without its speed bumps. 

Last month, Clinton said he was “very sorry” after suggesting that Obama should support renewing the George W. Bush-era tax rates across the board, a position at odds with the administration’s call for wealthier Americans to pay more.

Clinton’s comments were seized on by Republicans, and the former president quickly backtracked, saying that he supported Obama’s position and agreed “upper-income people will have to contribute to long-term debt reduction.”  

Clinton has also taken on GOP contender Mitt Romney, joining in the president’s calls for the former Massachusetts governor to release more of his tax records. Earlier this month, Clinton said he was “perplexed” by Romney’s decision not to disclose more of his financial history and defended Obama’s attacks on Romney’s jobs record in Massachusetts. 

“It's just as relevant as going over my record as governor when I ran for president," said Clinton, who was Arkansas governor before running for president.