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Fix Pick: 'Good Bill vs. Bad Bill'

Trying to understand what benefit former president Bill Clinton brings to his wife's campaign for president is a delicate business. Hillary Clinton's campaign never addresses the matter publicly and looks askance at stories that seek to understand the relationship between the couple.

Bill and Hillary Clinton
The Clintons remain a fascinating study in love and politics. (AP file photo)

But divining what role Bill Clinton plays in his wife's campaign and what effect his larger-then-life persona have on her chances at winning the nomination is essential to understanding not just her chances, but the shape of the overall campaign.

No one in political journalism is better equipped to get inside the nature of the Clintons' personal and professional relationship than Ron Fournier of the Associated Press. Fournier got his start in political journalism in Arkansas in the mid 1980s working for the Hot Springs Sentinel Record and the Arkansas Democrat in Little Rock where he covered then Gov. Bill Clinton. Fournier joined the AP in the late 80s and came to Washington to cover the Clinton White House.

Put simply, Fournier (along with former Post editor/reporter, Politico founder and Fix mentor John Harris) knows the mind of Bill Clinton better than anyone currently working in journalism.

Fournier demonstrates that knowledge in a column he penned earlier this week entitled "'Good Bill' vs. 'Bad Bill'".

In it, Fournier details the "double-edged sword of a husband" that Clinton is when it comes to his wife's presidential aspirations.

While the column got considerable attention (thank you Matt Drudge) for the fact that Fournier caught Bill Clinton insisting he had always been opposed to the war in Iraq -- an assertion disputed by a former State department official in today's Post -- the piece contains at least two more keen observations:

* First, Fournier details the Bill Clinton speaking blueprint -- a primer for anyone who has ever found themselves captivated by the former president's oratorical skills. "Clinton's stump speeches have always been remarkably accessible despite the length and complexity," writes Fournier. "One reason is that, while he talks without notes, Clinton's remarks are organized like a neat classroom outline."

* Second, Fournier succinctly explains the key selling point that Clinton makes for his wife. "What he left the crowds with was the assurance that his wife understands their plight," Fournier writes. "For a man who convinced so many voters he felt their pain, this may be [the] most powerful calling card Clinton can leave to Iowa crowds and his wife."

Do yourself a favor and read the entire piece. And be on the lookout for future Fournier pieces on the Clintons.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 29, 2007; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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