The Clintons In Iowa: The Lede

DES MOINES -- Former President Bill Clinton, in his first public campaign appearance, exhorted a crowd of 7,000 Iowans** gathered at the state fairground here to caucus next January for his wife, HIllary Clinton, telling them that she'd be his choice even if he was not able to make the judgment as her husband.

"Here's what I want to say: I'd be here tonight if she asked me, if we weren't married."

"In 2008, I will celebrate my fortieth year as a voter," he said. "In those 40 years, tumultuous, fascinating years for America, she is by a long stretch the best qualified non-incumbent I have ever had a chance to vote for president."

If there was any chance that the former president, with his famously magnetic political skills, would overshadow his wife, or that she would receive applause directed primarily at him, HIllary
Clinton, her advisers, and especially the crowd seemed to be cheerfully unconcerned.

Both Clintons received the same volume of applause; Bill Clinton spoke for roughly six minutes, lavishing praise on his wife, recounting the line items of her resume, and then turned the microphone over to her, retreating to sit on a small chair while she delivered her stump speech.

Ok, so the Clintons were about 30 minutes late. They had reasonable excuse: they were meeting with Clinton's Iowa field organizers.