One of the biggest questions surrounding Hillary Clinton since she announced her presidential campaign last year has been what role her husband, President Bill Clinton, would play in the White House.
On Sunday, she provided a big hint.
"My husband, who I'm going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy, cause you know he knows how to do it," Clinton said during a campaign rally in Kentucky. "And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out."
At another event on Monday, Clinton said her husband wouldn’t have a cabinet position and her campaign issued a statement saying there was no formal role in mind for the former commander-in-chief.
Still, the former Secretary of State made similar comments earlier this month during her first visit to Kentucky, a state that will holds its primary tomorrow and where her husband won in 1992 and 1996 and remains popular among white, working class voters.
"I've told my husband he's got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this because you know he’s got more ideas a minute than anybody I know," Clinton said at the time. "Gotta put people back to work and make it happen. So we're going to give it all we've got, absolute full-in 100 percent effort, because I worry we won't recognize our country if we don't do this."
While her remarks could simply be campaign hyperbole, an attempt to draw support away from her Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who is looking to win the Bluegrass State primary, the phrasing suggests Clinton might be willing to cede an enormous part of her presidential duty to her spouse.
Next to being a steward of U.S. foreign policy, the president’s largest responsibility is cultivating the domestic economy. By telegraphing that she will appoint her husband to be some kind of economy czar, Clinton could be giving up a crucial policy area where she could make her mark.
The U.S. economy did grow under President Clinton’s watch, adding more than 22 million jobs during his eight years in office, according to estimates from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare that to the roughly 1.1 million created during President George W. Bush administration. It must be noted that Clinton was aided tremendously by the growth of the Internet during his time in office, which culminated with the dot com bubble bursting in early 2000.
There are good reasons why the former First Lady might want to reconsider reviving the good times of the 1990s.
First, young voters have turned out in droves to support Sanders in an election that has been defined by “outsider” candidates like presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Second, if Clinton trumpets her connection with her husband too much it could open her up to Republican attacks of a “co-presidency” and revive every worn criticism of his administration, including his negotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal which is still reviled in parts of must-win states like Ohio.
Trump has already shown he’s not afraid to attack Clinton by using her husband’s mistakes, like last week when he an "enabler" of his infamous infidelity.
"She's been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives," the billionaire said at a campaign rally. "She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful."
There’s no question that President Clinton has been a crucial surrogate for the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign, but she might want to think twice before boasting she will turn the keys to the economy over to him.