Obama Banks on Bill Clinton to Clinch Close States

Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign event for Barack Obama at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg, Fla. Friday, Nov. 2. 2012.
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No state underscores Clinton's value more than Florida, where the Republican Bush family looms large. While Obama makes every possible use of his party's most recent president, Romney can hardly mention George W. Bush, who left office amid an economic collapse and an unpopular war in Iraq.

Romney campaigned Thursday in Tampa, however, with Bush's brother Jeb, a former Florida governor who remains widely popular.

Much has been made of Clinton's once-frosty relationship with Obama. Clinton, among other things, in 2008 called Obama's history of opposing the Iraq war a "fairy tale."

The two men may never be chums. But Clinton's endorsements now seem full-throated. It delights Democratic loyalists.

"The Republicans have nothing to match the personal appeal and persuasive power of President Clinton," said Doug Hattaway, a consultant with close ties to the Clintons. "He can energize Democrats and close the deal with moderate swing voters."

Bruce Marvin, who attended Clinton's event in Chillicothe, Ohio, said the ex-president explains Obama's plans even more understandably than does the nominee.

"I think it's backing up what Obama may not have been able to get across," Marvin said.

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    Associated Press writers John Seewer in Ohio, Brian Bakst in Minnesota and Carrie Antlfinger in Wisconsin contributed to this report.