The Obama campaign announced today that Hillary Clinton will be campaigning with Obama next Friday. I am a little surprised to see Clinton out on the trail already, but here are three ways that Clinton will impact the campaign.
1). Unity - Although there has been a great deal of talk about unity from both Clinton and Obama, until they appear on the same stage together, there will still be some questions about the hurt feelings of the primary campaign. Women were one of the major constituencies of the Clinton campaign, and it has been surprising how quickly they have moved towards Obama, but Clinton’s appearance and strong support of Obama will go a long towards putting the heat of the primary campaign in the past. This would also help Obama attract Clinton’s other constituencies, white and older voters.
2). The Superstar Surrogate – When people analyze the general election matchup between Obama and McCain, they often overlook the advantage that Obama has in terms of surrogates. The Obama campaign will have the ability to blanket the country with strong surrogates. John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Al Gore will all be out on the stump this fall for Obama. However, nobody could be a more powerful surrogate for Obama than Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is now the second most popular Democratic politician in the country. Hillary is also the only surrogate who can command national media attention on her own. The Republican Party can’t match the kind of star power that Hillary Clinton brings to the stump. There is no one in the GOP, outside of the unpopular President Bush, that the McCain campaign can send out to match Clinton. If I was running the Obama campaign, I would send Clinton to the same city that McCain is in as often as possible.
3). The Attack Dog Role – Whether she is chosen as Obama’s running mate or not, and my money is on not, Hillary Clinton would be the perfect person to send out on the campaign trail, to refute Republican attacks against Obama. Throughout her entire campaign, Clinton was intense and tireless. If she brings the same kind of energy to the Obama camp, she could add a bit of toughness to a campaign that sometimes gets a little too subtle and cerebral for its own good. I am not suggesting that she will win the election for Obama, but that she could easily become his most powerful surrogate.