Love him or hate him, few people can fire up a crowd like former President Bill Clinton. "He's a rock star in California, he's huge," says Hal Cerrell of the political consulting firm Cerrell Associates. That sentiment and a 60 percent plus approval rating is why the former president is in the Golden State stumping for democratic candidates who are facing tight races.
Friday night the former commander in chief was whooping up the crowd at UCLA for his former rival Jerry Brown who is running once again to be the Governor of California. Brown is locked in a close race with former EBay CEO, Republican Meg Whitman, and the Brown campaign is happy to have Clinton singing his praises. "I have known Jerry Brown for almost 35 years, " said Clinton. "When we were governors we strongly supported the first big push to clean energy." He added that Brown "created a million and a half jobs 30 years ago."
Such camaraderie was not always the case with these two. Many might remember a lot of sparring and terse words when the two men were vying for president back in 1992, and most recently along the campaign trail in the California governor's race. After old Clinton footage was used in a campaign commercial for Brown's Republican rival Meg Whitman, where Clinton is featured questioning Brown's record of raising taxes in California, Brown fired back that Clinton "doesn't always tell the truth." Brown quickly apologized and now we see Clinton out there pounding the pavement for his fellow Democrat. "I have known him a long time, " remarked Clinton of Brown. "He still cares about your future and that is important. " Although Brown is leading Whitman by roughly five points in most polls, the race is volatile. Roughly 20 percent of California voters call themselves independents, many of them still undecided in this race. Analysts say Clinton can help sway people often times better than the actual candidate who is running. "Given Clinton's persona, persona and popularity, " says Dash, "for some voters, that could make a difference."
The Brown campaign is counting on it.