There are many ways in which Bernie Sanders’ unexpectedly strong primary campaign start against Hillary Clinton could actually help Hillary in the end, assuming she wins the nomination. Not least, she’s had to exercise the crucial campaigning and debating muscles that had atrophied since 2008.

Nevertheless, as indicated in in this New Yorker comment on the post-New Hampshire Democratic debate, Clinton is betting big on Obama. She’s praising his record much more than she otherwise might have, in order to beat Bernie:

[F]aced with a much stronger challenge from Sanders than her campaign expected, Clinton appears to have elevated Obama from the role of esteemed former and implicit endorser to that of a central—perhaps the central—figure in her campaign.

That’s smart politics for winning the nomination, given how popular the President remains with Democrats, especially the minorities whose support Clinton counts on to subdue Sanders. But it could haunt her come November.

The reason? As indicated by recent polls, Obama’s job approval with the public as a whole remains negative.

Clinton would no doubt have endorsed much of the President’s record come the general election campaign, even without Bernie in the picture. But it would have been more tempered. Once the nominations are settled, expect Trump or Cruz or whoever to hurl in her face today’s tight political embrace of Obama.

Based in Oakland, California, Stephen Golub writes, consults and teaches about international development, with a particular focus on justice, democracy, human rights and governance issues. Currently teaching part-time at Central European University in Budapest and previously at the University of California at Berkeley, he has worked in over 40 countries and with such organizations as Amnesty International, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Ford and Open Society Foundations, the U.K. Department for International Development, the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank

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