- (Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
Former President Bill Clinton is now back in the good graces of the Democratic Party and President Obama and part of the proof lies in the prominent role he will play in this summer's convention in Charlotte, N.C., in late August.
The official announcement from the Democratic National Convention is expected to come late Monday.
Clinton's role is unique in that former presidents – while given the royal treatment and publicly recognized for their past contributions – are typically not asked to take center stage alongside a current president or the party's nominee. One reason is that they might upstage the current or prospective president.
Yet one fact that most political operatives agree on is that Bill Clinton is not your typical former president and according to Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, it's Clinton's communication skills that are in high demand.
"There isn't anybody on the planet who has a greater perspective on not just the last four years, but the last two decades, than Bill Clinton," Axelrod said in a Sunday interview. "He can really articulate the choice that is before the people."
In spite of the personal issues that seemed to dominate the last years of his presidency, Clinton is a persuasive communicator and will rally the party's base while trying to appeal to the three or four million voters in a handful of swing states that are expected to be the deciding factor in the November election.
"Clinton on stage is not just a sign of party unity," Democratic consultant Mo Elleithee told The Washington Post. "It's a sign that we're pumped, fired up and ready to go."
In years past, the nominee for vice president has had a night all to themselves to deliver a keynote speech. Since Clinton will now occupy this slot, Vice President Joe Biden will nominate President Obama on the last night of the convention.
Nonetheless, there are a couple of points that make Clinton's role more unique.
During the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton was helping his wife and then New York Sen. Hillary Clinton with her race against a young and inexperienced senator from Illinois by the name of Barack Obama. There was no love lost between the two men, especially when it became clear that Obama would secure the party nomination.
But in a demonstration of party unity, the former president stood before a national audience and party loyalists in Denver while he endorsed Sen. Obama's nomination.
According to party insiders, the two men have forged a decent working relationship but privately, Clinton still feels that Obama is not experienced enough to wade through a complex political environment and appeal to both middle-income taxpayers and Wall Street executives in the same speech.
One such example is when Clinton recommended the White House support a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts, only to retract the statement a day later. Insiders speculate he was chastised by senior administration officials for not first clearing his statements before speaking publicly.
The fact that Clinton had to backtrack was an embarrassing moment and one the RNC was able to take advantage of in their effort to highlight the differences between the two men on the issue of taxes and the economy.
Former GOP President George W. Bush announced earlier this month that he would not be attending the Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., in mid-August.