Bill Clinton: Obama's Favorite Surrogate

Obama wields popularity of Bill Clinton in new campaign ad, primetime convention speaking slot.

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Barack Obama talks with former President Bill Clinton before an event in McLean, Va.

President Barack Obama considers Bill Clinton such a powerful advocate that he is giving his predecessor an ever-expanding role in the Obama re-election campaign, underscored by a new ad featuring Clinton praising Obama's economic policies.

An Obama spokesman said Thursday that the ad will run in eight swing states—Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

It features Clinton recalling his strong economic record during two terms in the White House, and suggesting that Obama is adopting his policies. "This election, to me, is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment," Clinton says in the ad. "This is a clear choice. The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper-income people, and go back to deregulation. That's what got us in trouble in the first place. President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up -- investing in innovation, education and job training. It only works if there is a strong middle class. That's what happened when I was president. We need to keep going with his plan."

Clinton also will give a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, Sept. 5, the night before Obama formally accepts his party's nomination.

[Ken Walsh: Obama's Secret Weapon: Bill Clinton]

Clinton is one of the most popular political figures in the country, and Obama strategists say he can help mobilize Democrats and swing voters by validating Obama's economic policies. Nearly 70 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Clinton. Only 53 percent have a favorable view of Obama and 40 percent have a favorable view of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.