Former President Bill Clinton greets President Obama at a late-night campaign… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)
BRISTOW, Va. – The commander in chief is now the prop in chief.
That’s how President Obama described himself — well, the prop part, at least — during a late-night rally in which he shared a stage with another powerful set piece, former President Bill Clinton.
Winding down his remarks at his fourth and final campaign stop Saturday, Obama told supporters that, as he waited to get on stage, he was chatting with David Plouffe, his 2008 campaign manager and, as Obama put it, a “mastermind" of campaign organization.
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“And we were talking about how, as the campaign goes on, we become less relevant. I’m sort of a prop in the campaign,” Obama said. “The power’s not with us anymore. The planning, everything we do, it doesn’t matter, because now it’s all up to you. It’s up to the volunteers.” The audience cheered.
Indeed, the entire Obama campaign is in “GOTV,” or Get Out The Vote, mode, and the president himself seemed more worried about the work going on by field organizers all across the country than his own performance on the stump.
And that might be a good thing, given how his voice sounded increasingly hoarse, though not quite as faded as Clinton’s before him.
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“I’ve given my voice in service to my president,” Clinton said at the start of his remarks, which nonetheless went on for more than 20 minutes.
The 42nd president borrowed from the 43rd in selling the 44th, saying President George W. Bush was right when he said that a president is a “decider.”
“I want to vote for the president, who’s been a good commander in chief and a good decider in chief,” Clinton said. “I want to vote for a president who’s been through the fire of these last four years, and brought America out on the other side ready to take off.”
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According to the Obama campaign, the rally at an amphitheater in northern Virginia was the seventh event the two presidents have done together. And this time, Obama said, he was so focused on Clinton’s introduction that he almost missed his cue to get on stage.
“I was sitting there just soaking it all in,” he said of Clinton, who he called “the master.” “He was a great president. He has been a great friend.”
The two will share a stage again Sunday morning in Concord, N.H.