Published June 12, 2010
Bubba is back and now he's got a Tea Party favorite in his crosshairs.
After helping lead candidates in Pennsylvania and Arkansas to unexpected victories in recent weeks, former President Bill Clinton is now hitting the campaign trail in Nevada to help vulnerable Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid overcome Republican nominee Sharron Angle.
And according to the newest Rasmussen poll, Clinton has his work cut out for him.
The poll shows Angle leading 50 to 39 percent. The poll was taken one day after Angle won the GOP primary and likely reflects a post-primary bounce.
When that poll is averaged with two others taken right before the primary, Angle has a much smaller lead.
Still, Democrats are bringing a lot of establishment power to take on Angle, particularly in Clinton, who is currently enjoying a political resurgence of sorts.
Last month, Clinton helped Democratic Rep. Mark Critz win a special election in rural Pennsylvania. And his campaigning gave Sen. Blanche Lincoln the edge in her narrow victory in Tuesday's Democratic runoff in Arkansas against union-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
Now Democrats are hoping Clinton can rally voters for Reid.
But some political analysts aren't convinced Clinton will be a factor in the Nevada race.
"Let's remember the Pennsylvania race was a special election. The Democratic primary in Arkansas naturally has strong Clinton supporters voting," said Larry Sabato, director of University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
"This is going to be a general election in a state that was never that keen on Bill Clinton," Sabato said. "So I think it's a very different situation. Clinton can help Reid raise money. He can certainly draw a crowd, but he's certainly not going to determine the results of the general election."
Clinton was the headliner at a rally Thursday night, wondering out loud why Reid's seat is in jeopardy.
"Why would you give away the Senate majority leader who has delivered time and time again?" Clinton asked about 700 Nevada voters at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. Reid was in Washington.
Clinton also sought to characterize Angle's conservative positions as too extreme, saying she's been hiding since the primary.
Angle, who now will have to ramp up her shoe-string campaign to take on the powerful Senate majority leader clearly favors small government. On her website, she says Social Security and Medicare are "broken and bankrupt."
And while the government should "keep its contract with seniors" she urges younger workers to look into other retirement account options.
She went on a conservative radio talk show in Nevada Wednesday and hit back against the charge that she's too out there.
"You've been called a 'niche candidate,' a 'whack job.' What are they talking about?" host Alan Stock asked.
"Well, a whack job candidate is Harry Reid. That's why we've got to fire him. He's out of touch with the mainstream America," she said.
Republican leaders say Angle needs to reintroduce herself to general election voters so that they hear from her and not Democrats, what her positions are.
"I don't think people know very much about her so the people who have mischaracterized her views have been people with a self interest in trying to marginalize her," said Sen. John Coryn, R-Texas.
While Democrats are trying to convince voters that Angle is too far to the right, Cornyn says Republicans are going to try to convince them that Reid is too far left, too much of a big government spender and too tied to Washington.
That strategy may undermine Clinton's effectiveness since he epitomizes the Democratic establishment in an anti-establishment year.
"He is very effective," said retiring Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder of Arkansas, who praised Clinton's understanding that the party should be a big tent. Still, Snyder added: "He recognizes he's not effective everywhere, and there are some places where he plays better than others."
Fox News' Molly Henneberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.