Bill Clinton stepped into the limelight Monday, making his first solo campaign appearance in wife Hillary’s 2016 bid for the White House, calling her the most qualified US presidential candidate in decades.
The 69-year-old former president went to in support of the former secretary of state, senator and first lady who leads national polls for the Democrats ahead of the state’s voting contest next month.
Popular among party faithful, Clinton is nonetheless still tainted by allegations of infidelity and sexual impropriety that his wife’s Republican rival, Donald Trump, has sought to exploit by calling him “fair game.”
On Monday, he addressed a rally at a community college in the city of Nashua, paying tribute to Hillary’s determination to make America a fairer, safer country for the poor and struggling middle classes.
“I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job in a moment of great importance who is better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done,” he said.
New Hampshire hosts the nation’s first presidential primary on February 9.
Calling himself a “happy grandfather,” a relaxed Clinton said he thought Hillary was “the most amazing person” when they met and fell in love, 45 years ago at Yale Law School.
She could have won any job but wanted only to provide legal aid to the poor, said her husband, dressed in an open-necked shirt, dark pullover and blazer, wearing a Hillary pin on his lapel.
– ‘One of the great women abusers’ –
“Everything she touched, she made better,” he said, calling her a “change maker.”
“In an uncertain world, where borders look more like nets than walls, and no one is in total control, she understands what it takes to keep our country as safe as possible,” he added.
But Trump, the real estate tycoon who has led Republican polls for months, has blasted Bill Clinton’s “terrible record” with women an apparent allusion to his past alleged marital infidelities.
He stepped up his personal attacks on the Clintons on Monday, criticizing Hillary for calling him sexist.
“How can she do that when she’s got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting in her house, waiting for her to come home for dinner,” he said.
“The worst thing Hillary could do is have her husband campaign for her. Just watch,” he tweeted to his 5.5 million followers on Sunday.
Republicans in Congress tried but failed in 1998 to remove Bill Clinton from the White House for alleged perjury and obstruction during an investigation into an alleged affair.
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton was heckled by a Republican state representative in New Hampshire about her husband’s alleged sex scandals. “You are very rude,” she snapped back before addressing another audience member.
Her husband did not mention Trump during his 30-minute speech in Nashua, but warned that key gains in environmental and health care policy would be reversed if the country elects a Republican president.
“It’s kind of scary,” he said in reference to the campaign, urging supporters to take the candidates seriously. He later addressed another campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire.
According to Real Clear Politics, Clinton trails her party rival, Bernie Sanders, by 44.7 to 49 percent of the Democrat vote in the state.
On Monday, she was in Iowa, hundreds of miles apart from her husband. “I think I can be the president America and Iowa needs, with your help,” she told supporters.
Trump on Monday unveiled his first TV ad of the campaign, fanning fresh controversy by incorporating footage of migrants fleeing Morocco into a Spanish enclave with a voice over talking about the Mexico-US border.
The 30-second ad will be broadcast from Tuesday, costing $2 million a week ahead of the first-in-the-nation voting contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
It spotlights his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, pledge to crush the so-called Islamic State extremist group and promise to end illegal immigration from Mexico.
But a fact-checking website gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” rating, saying it uses footage, not from the Mexico-US border, but from Melilla, a small Spanish enclave across the Atlantic Ocean on Morocco’s coast.