On The Situation Room, Amy Holmes asserted that while Bill Clinton is "definitely an asset in the primary" for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, "in the general campaign, it becomes a lot more complicated. Pew did a really interesting poll in May of 2005 where they asked ... the voter would they like to see a Bill Clinton third term. And the majority said no." However, Holmes ignored several 2007 polls finding that a majority of the public thinks that Bill Clinton is an asset.
On the October 30 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked whether former President Bill Clinton would be an "[a]sset or [a] liability" to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign. CNN senior political analyst Amy Holmes, who is also a Republican strategist, asserted that while Bill Clinton is "definitely an asset in the primary ... in the general campaign, it becomes a lot more complicated. Pew did a really interesting poll in May of 2005 where they asked the -- you know -- the voter would they like to see a Bill Clinton third term. And the majority said no." Holmes added: "So as far as if Hillary Clinton is regarded as a third term for Bill Clinton, that could really hurt her." While speculating on what a 30-month-old poll might mean for Hillary Clinton, Holmes ignored several 2007 polls finding that a majority of the public thinks that Bill Clinton is an asset. A September 25-26 Fox News poll found that 53 percent of respondents thought that of the spouses of seven presidential candidates, Bill Clinton would "would help [his] spouse the most to win the White House." A March 23-25 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would do "more good than harm" for Hillary Clinton's campaign. And a February 22-25 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would be "mostly helpful ... to her presidency." Additionally, an April 10-12 CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll found that 60 percent of respondents thought Bill Clinton would have a "positive effect" on a Hillary Clinton administration.
A more recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, conducted September 27-30, that found that 52 percent of respondents thought Hillary Clinton would "take the presidency in a different direction from her husband's" and that it would be "a good thing." The Washington Post/ABC News poll also found that 15 percent of respondents thought Hillary Clinton would take the presidency in a different direction and it would be a "bad thing." Twelve percent thought Hillary Clinton would "represent a resumption of Bill Clinton's presidency" and it would be a good thing, and 15 percent thought a Hillary Clinton presidency would represent a resumption and it would be a bad thing. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents said they would "personally feel comfortable ... with the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House."
Just 27% would like to see [George W.] Bush serve as president for a third term. A majority also opposes a hypothetical third term for Bill Clinton (55%), but significantly more would like to see a third term for Clinton (43%) than for Bush.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) have a favorable opinion of Bill Clinton, the highest positive rating of 11 political figures tested.
The Situation Room panel also included CNN anchor Jack Cafferty and CNN contributor Roland Martin.
As Media Matters for America noted, Blitzer has previously asked whether a campaign advertisement for Hillary Clinton featuring Bill Clinton was "the act of a supportive husband or a sign the Clinton campaign is feeling desperate," without offering any basis for his suggestion that the Clinton campaign may be "feeling desperate."
From the 7 p.m. ET hour of CNN's The Situation Room on October 30:
BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. We're going to have a lot more with our roundtable coming up including this subject: the Blackwater security controversy. Has the state department promised those convoy guards immunity?
And is Bill Clinton an asset or liability when it comes to his wife's own presidential ambitions?
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about Bill Clinton. Asset or liability, Amy, as far as Hillary Clinton's campaign is concerned, not only for the nomination, but long term?
HOLMES: You know, I think that's an interesting question. I think he's definitely an asset in the primary. I mean, he's very beloved by his party. But I think in the general campaign, it becomes a lot more complicated. Pew did a really interesting poll in May of 2005 where they asked the -- you know -- the voter would they like to see a Bill Clinton third term. And the majority said no. So as far as if Hillary Clinton is regarded as a third term for Bill Clinton, that could really hurt her.
MARTIN: I think he's a huge asset, primarily because when President Clinton left office, his approval ratings were still very high. Not only that, you probably have Hillary Clinton or other Democrats who would rather have Bill Clinton on the road campaigning for them than some Republicans wanting President George W. Bush to campaign for them. I mean, he is still the most popular figure in the Democratic Party. Sure, some folks are not going to like him. But the bottom line is, he's a former president who's done a very good job on the international stage. Bottom line, he will be an asset to her campaign.
CAFFERTY: Ask Al Gore if he would have been an asset to the campaign. Al Gore would have been president if he hadn't told Bill to take a walk. I think if Hillary gets into the White House, it'll be because of two men. I think people long to have her husband back there for whatever the reason. He is a charismatic guy, politician extraordinaire. And the other man that'll be responsible is President George W. Bush who, I think, has poisoned the waters so dramatically for any Republican that Ronald Reagan couldn't get elected next year.
BLITZER: Amy gets the last word.
HOLMES: I think George Bush will still be a significant fundraiser for a Republican candidate, and I don't think they'll be ashamed of George Bush being on the campaign trail with them.
BLITZER: Amy Holmes --
MARTIN: Oh, he'll be raising money, but they'll be hiding him.
BLITZER: Stand by. Roland Martin, Amy Holmes, Jack Cafferty, excellent discussion, thanks very much.