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Bill Clinton kicks off tour for wife’s presidential campaign

The event marked the former president’s debut solo appearance for his wife, part of a broader strategy to boost her campaign

Published: Updated:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made his debut solo appearance on behalf of his wife’s 2016 presidential campaign in New Hampshire Monday — a lot grayer, a bit trimmer and far more subdued than nearly a quarter-century ago, when he rescued his flagging 1992 campaign in this key early voting state.

While Bill Clinton was keen to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton’s key campaign platforms, the passing time hasn’t shielded him from the ghosts that haunted his own presidency. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has gone on the offensive in recent days with attacks over his impeachment and decades-old sex scandal.

Both Clintons aimed for higher ground, even on policy. Asked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about Trump’s remark that Hillary Clinton helped create the Islamic State group, she replied: “I’ve adopted a New Year’s resolution. I’m going to let him live in his alternative reality and I’m not going to respond.”

In Manchester, N.H., meanwhile, Bill Clinton mingled with a lunchtime crowd at a popular eatery while a news station playing above his head ran captioned video questioning whether he could avoid Trump’s flagrant attacks — and that’s just what he did.

“They have to choose a nominee and we have a primary to win,” he said when asked about Trump and the broader Republican field. “One of my many rules in politics is don’t look past the next election.”

In a wide-ranging address that took voters through Hillary Clinton’s work as a young lawyer in Arkansas, ways to combat heroin addiction, the political achievements of President Barack Obama and the failings of America’s fourteenth president, Franklin Pierce, Bill Clinton argued that the Democratic front-runner offers the best plan to restore “broadly shared prosperity.”

The two-term president seemed in his element making small talk and posing for dozens of photos.

“He practically sat in my lap,” said Denise McMann, who was having lunch with her three sisters. “I’m not supporting his wife. But he was the former president, so it’s exciting.”

The event marked the former president’s debut solo appearance for his wife, part of a broader strategy to boost her campaign in the run-up to early voting next month. Clinton’s campaign later announced that the ex-president would make campaign stops in Iowa on Thursday.