Hillary Hits the Trail

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After Bill Clinton's joke four years ago during his Presidential campaign that Americans could buy one and get one free with Hillary as the First Lady fell flat, the Clintons seemed to have learned their lesson. On the Finnish leg of an 11-day tour through Europe, Hillary said she's looking forward to jumping into the campaign but declined to discuss her role. It's likely to be a much lower profile one than four years ago. TIME's James Carney notes Hillary has become at once one of her husband's best assets and one of his biggest liabilities. Although she virtually rescued the 1992 campaign by rallying staff and putting the campaign's best speech writer James Carville in charge, recent polls show Americans would rather have Hillary stay behind the scenes. An ABC News/Washington Post poll reported this month that 47 percent of those surveyed view the First Lady unfavorably. It's no wonder, considering Hillary is close to the center of just about every White House controversy to date: Whitewater, the Travel Office purge, Filegate, Vince Foster's death, and the failed health-care reform task force. "Hillary is wise enough to know she's a liability for her husband right now," says Carney. "But that doesn't mean she should stay out of the public completely. She is a popular figure among some slices of the electorate. She can be a very effective speaker to drum up support among women voters and core Democratic voters." Lamia Abu-Haidar