After former President Bill Clinton disagreed with Obama campaign Wednesday on the extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts, analysts have been debating the question whether he is deliberately sabotaging Obama's campaign effort.
The Obama campaign considers the issue of extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts a crucial election issue. But Fox News reports that Clinton, who has been campaigning for Obama ahead of the November general election, blatantly contradicted the Obama campaign position when he said on CNBC's "Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo" that the tax cuts should be extended, temporarily, even for wealthy Americans after it expires in January.
Obama's administration advocates slashing the national debt of $15.7 billion by ending tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year. The Obama administration argues that wealthy Americans need to contribute to controlling rising federal deficits.
The Washington Post reports that Republicans quickly seized on the apparent conflict in the Obama camp to promote their position, saying that Clinton is on the side of Republicans on the issue of tax cuts. John Beohner, speaker of the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday, "Even Bill Clinton came out for it, before he was against it."
According to The Washington Post, within hours of Clinton's remarks, a spokesman retracted, saying that Clinton "does not believe the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended again." He said that Clinton in his remark was merely acknowledging the political reality that no long-term deal is likely until after the election.
AP reports that this is the second time in the last two weeks that Clinton is causing the Obama campaign "heartburn" with his statements. Last week, Clinton said that Obama's rival, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has a "sterling" record at his private equity firm Bain Capital. His statement came at a time the Obama campaign was trying to portray Romney's tenure at Bain in a negative light.
According to Politico.com, Obama campaign had just run a TV ad that said working Americans have been harmed by Romney's Bain Capital. A man was featured in the ad, saying that Bain was a "vampire" that "sucked the blood out of us."
Politico.com comments that Clinton apparently did not like that ad. He said: “I think he had a good business career... a man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”
Analysts have wondered why Clinton would "undercut" Obama with such statement. Politico.com observes, "The two are not close, but they are not supposed to be enemies.They have golfed together, they attend fundraisers together, their staffs talk and, oh, yeah, Clinton’s wife is Obama’s secretary of state."
There are allegations that Clinton is running an agenda parallel to Obama's. Some observers have asserted that Clinton does not want Obama to win the November elections. Others have alleged that although Hillary Clinton has denied it, she plans to run for president in 2016, and her supporters and strategists believe that she stands a better chance in 2016 if Obama loses to Romney in 2012.
According to AP, a political strategist said: "Let's face it, her chances diminish dramatically if a Democratic president has just served two terms."
Hillary denied she has plans to run for president in 2016, but Bill Clinton gave conflicting signals when he told NBC's Luke Russert: "She's told you and everybody else that she thinks she'll probably never run for office again. But I've been there; I know what happens when you go through this decompression after years of relentless, high-pressure activity. And I just think she needs to rest up, do some things she cares about, and whatever she decides to do, I'll support."
Clinton is being openly accused of deliberately sabotaging Obama's campaign efforts. AP reports that Charles Krauthammer, conservative Washington Post columnist, called Clinton a "bull in a China shop," and a "loose cannon, double agent" in the Obama campaign team.
According to GlennBeck.com, "Bill Clinton is out to sabotage Barack Obama’s reelection chances... It seems pretty clear at this point that he doesn’t want to see Obama in office come 2013, and is trying to stop him in the most passive aggressive manner possible. Why else would he be undermining the President’s campaign at every turn?"
GlennBeck.com also accuses Clinton of touting his own records over Obama's. The site quotes Clinton saying: “Remember me, I’m the only guy that gave you four surplus budgets of the eight I sent.”
But other analysts have expressed contrary views. According to AP, Stephen Hess, a former Richard Nixon adviser, said, "I don't think he's truly trying to deliberately sabotage anybody; I think it's just him — you turn on Bill Clinton, and you can walk away and come back in a half hour and he's still telling you the history of the Swiss watch industry or whatever it might be. He is loquacious, to say the least. He doesn't speak in sound bites. It's hard to turn him off. And then he reads the transcript and wonders: 'Did I really say that?' That's very much his MO — he apologizes, he says he was taken out of context, he carries on."
AP reports that when Roger Simon of Politico.com confronted Clinton with the allegation that he was "sabotaging Obama's strategy," Clinton bristled, saying, "Mr. Simon may think I should be an employee of the campaign, but I'm not." Clinton told NBC: "I've been aghast by all this flutter."