Kerry Riding the Clinton Mystique

"In the beginning, the Kerry campaign did not really address the national issues that really influence the African-American vote as much as he should have," said Andrew Taylor, associate professor of political science at North Carolina State University. "With people worried about their jobs, you will probably see Kerry remind voters of the Clinton years and ask them things like, 'How did you feel then and how do you feel now?' If you want to return to a time of prosperity and you like the way you felt then, then vote for me. I'm your guy. But if you like the way you feel now, then vote for Bush."

Lessons From Gore's Campaign

Some also believe that Kerry took notes from Gore's 2000 bid for the presidency and has attempted to avoid making the mistakes the former vice president made.

Gore used Clinton sparingly in his campaign. It is believed that Gore did not want to be overshadowed by Clinton and saw his tainted legacy -- particularly the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- as problematic baggage.

"Gore's advisers probably told him they saw Bill Clinton as more of an ambivalent figure because of the Lewinsky scandal than as an asset. But I think in the course of eight years, Clinton and his administration has been associated with a period of tremendous prosperity," said Drew Westen, professor of psychology at Emory University who has studied political psychology.

One concern among Democrats is that Clinton's emergence could galvanize conservative Republicans who may not overwhelmingly favor Bush but are opposed to the former president and his allies, including Kerry. They would come out in big numbers on Election Day and vote for Bush.

"One downside about Clinton is the hatred some of his opponents had for him," Altschuler said. "He could incite some Republicans into remembering how much they disliked him and getting out to the polls. But on balance, the net gain for Kerry is positive."

Why the American Blue-Blood Candidate Needs the Clinton Rub

In some ways, Kerry shouldn't need a boost from the Clinton mystique.

On paper, he has the traditional pedigree for the presidency. Reared in a wealthy, traditionally nuclear family, he's an American blue blood and a decorated war veteran who has had more than 20 years of public service in the Senate. Clinton grew up poor in a broken family, avoided service in the Vietnam War and survived an embarrassing sex scandal with a Washington intern that would have ended most other presidencies.

Yet, Clinton seems more popular than ever. Some political observers have said that support for Kerry stems more from dislike of Bush than genuine fondness for Kerry. Perhaps Clinton's rags-to-riches story, his flaws and his naturally down-to-earth oratory style generate the passion in his supporters that the sometimes disconnected, erudite Kerry has craved.

"Given his background, his charisma and an ability to touch people, he has a story that more African-Americans -- and working-class people -- can relate to and appreciate," said Taylor. "Kerry has been seen as less intuitive, more intellectual. What Clinton does is soften Kerry for people."

"Clinton has a combined intellect and ability to communicate to everyone from a Harvard professor to a waitress in a diner," said Westen. "Really, only one other person in modern American history has been able to move people with the kind of charisma and emotion of Clinton and that was Ronald Reagan."

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