Hillary Clinton -- She's In!

A Role For 42

Last September, "Nightline" spent a day in upstate New York with Clinton as she campaigned for her Senate seat. After a long day of shaking hands, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made a surprise appearance -- at least, it was a surprise to us. The result was akin to a lighting bolt; his effect on the crowd, palpable. It raises the question of how to deal with her husband in this new campaign for the presidency.

"It's interesting because I think he's a great asset -- she thinks he's a great asset, and she'll say that publicly," Lockhart, a former press secretary in the Clinton White House, said. "The president is a great and natural political strategist … and I think [he] has done an enormous amount to burnish his image since he's left office."

Even Republican Mike Murphy agreed Bill Clinton could help his wife's campaign.

"He's a tremendous asset," Murphy said. "He commands the loyalty of a lot of people in the Democratic primary. He's well known and respected. … So I think he's a plus."

Last night, the former president made his first public appearance since his wife's announcement at a New York City book party for former Democratic National Committee chairman Terence McAullife.

"I was instructed to be here by Terry, not just to flak the book, but because he said I need practice in a supporting role," Clinton joked.

In addition to the former president's value as a political strategist and incomparable networker, Stephanopoulos said Clinton can offer a lot with the simple power of his name. The problem is, that familiarity could hurt Sen. Clinton as much as it helps her.

"The Clinton brand particularly in the Democratic Party is unbeatable," Stephanopoulos said. "He's got the highest favorability ratings than just about any politician in the country right now. …[But] Is the Clinton brand part of the past or part of the future?"

The Big Question

The most pressing question remains -- what effect will being a woman have on her candidacy?

"At the end of the day, I think it helps her," Mellman said. "Most Democrats are women, and I think a lot of women think it's about time to put a woman in the White House."

But Murphy said that "identity politics" no longer influences voters.

"[The idea] that women vote for women, Irish vote for Irish -- that might have been true a hundred years ago, but I don't think voters are nearly that lemming-like," Murphy said. "I think it's a fools mistake for the Hillary campaign to assume that her gender will somehow be a magic effect that will move Republicans votes to her."

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