Amid questions over whether his appearances would help or hurt his wife's campaign, former President Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail in New Hampshire Monday. Speaking about everything from Hillary Clinton's early days as a lawyer to the importance of a president's "psychological makeup," Bill Clinton reportedly earned a standing ovation in Nashua — and never mentioned Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who recently labeled him a "woman abuser," by name.
He reviewed Hillary Clinton's accomplishments as secretary of state (from 2009-2013), noting that under her leadership Russia and China joined the Iran nuclear sanctions, and talked about how she can "keep big, bad things from happening." He also said he thought the 2016 election was centered around restoring widely shared prosperity, and his wife was the one to do it.
"I do not believe, in my lifetime, anybody has run for the job who is better qualified by experience, knowledge and temperament," Bill Clinton, who was president from 1993 to 2001, said Monday. The 69-year-old could be come the White House's first "first gentleman" should Hillary Clinton win.
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) January 4, 2016
It was too early to tell Monday what Bill Clinton, who's been called "almost certainly the most popular person in American politics," could do for his wife's bid for the U.S. presidency. In retrospect, about 64 percent of Americans have rated Bill Clinton's time in office favorably, making him one of the most positively viewed leaders. At the time, however, his popularity varied by demographic. His influence on Hillary Clinton's campaign could, too.
For example, over the eight years Bill Clinton was in office, his average yearly approval rating among white voters was relatively low. Gallup data showed his favorability started out low at 45 percent in 1993 and peaked in 1998 at 61 percent.
Approval ratings among black voters were much higher — they never dropped below 71 percent among black Americans, according to Gallup. In 1999 — after the House of Representatives impeached him in connection with a sex scandal — they hit 90 percent.
But whether the former first lady needed to rely on Bill Clinton to drum up support among African-Americans was unclear. The Hill noted that as of November, she had a 71-point lead with black voters over opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the early voting state of South Carolina.
Hillary Clinton could, however, stand to benefit from Bill Clinton's popularity among Latinos. The former president won 72 percent of the Hispanic vote in 1996, a full 51 percentage points over his rival Bob Dole, according to Pew Research Center data. Now-President Barack Obama even mentioned this in 2008, asserting that Hillary Clinton was "inheriting goodwill that came from Bill Clinton."
An anonymous Clinton strategist told New York Magazine that same year Hillary Clinton could be seen as an American Evita Perón, the famous Argentinian first lady, activist and eventual vice presidential candidate.
“There’s a whole long tradition in Latin America of strong women whose political careers are built on the backs of their husbands, who ran the country first,” the strategist said.