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Monday, April 28, 2008

Bill Vs. Barack

by Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker

On the Thursday before the Pennsylvania primary, Bill Clinton spoke to a crowd of college students at a gymnasium in Lock Haven. The event was typical of the stops—forty-seven of them—that the former President had made in the state during the seven weeks leading up to the vote. Lock Haven is a small town (pop. 9,000), hours away from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, and the crowd was modest (half the gym’s floor space was empty). Within the campaign, Clinton’s enthusiasm for rustling votes in these remote corners was a source of amusement. When I asked what he was doing on Election Day, a Clinton campaign adviser said, “I think he’s leading a caravan of Wal-Mart greeters to the polls.”

On the stump, the former President dispensed idiosyncratic political analysis. “One of the reasons that she won Ohio that nobody wrote about,” he said, without explanation, “is that Ohio has a plant that produces the largest number of solar reflectors in America.” He offered commentary about his wife’s earlier limitations as a candidate: “I think Hillary’s become a much better speaker.” But, most of all, Bill Clinton talked about Bill Clinton:

The headquarters of my foundation is in Harlem. . . . My Presidential library and school of public service are in Arkansas. . . . I try to save this generation of children from the epidemic of childhood obesity. . . . I am working on rebuilding the Katrina area in New Orleans. . . . I have major global-warming projects in cities all around America. . . . Most of the time I am out in America on the streets. . . . I once gave a speech to a million people in Ghana.

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