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Bill Clinton predicts an easy win for Barack Obama

September 11, 2008 |  2:00 pm

The Ticket opined two weeks ago that Barack Obama would be well-served to avail himself of Bill Clinton's manifold political skills -- pronto.

Today, the man who once dominated Democratic politics and the one who hopes to for years to come took a small step toward merging their interests: Obama trekked to Clinton's Harlem office in New York and had a lunch meeting with the former president. Former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama meet for lunch in New York

During a brief chat with reporters before they went behind closed doors, Clinton at least delivered a sound bite favorable to Obama's cause.

With national polls showing John McCain catching a wave after his pick of Sarah Palin as a running mate, Clinton was asked about the state of the race. He replied: "I predict that Sen. Obama will win and win handily."

The perked up Obama, who said: "There you go. You can take it from the president of the United States. He knows a little something about politics."

Clinton, without specifying, said he's "agreed to do a substantial number of things" on behalf of Obama's campaign. "Whatever I’m asked to do," he added.

Most immediately, he'll stump for Obama on Sept. 29 in Florida (where, despite Clinton's optimistic spin, the Democratic ticket needs help; a new poll of the state's voters by Quinnipiac University gives McCain a solid lead).

The pool reporter for the photo op, Martha Moore of USA Today, noted that no handshake was exchanged between the men in the presence of the media.

After the get-together, an Obama aide issued the following statement:

President Clinton and Senator Obama had a great conversation in Harlem today. They discussed the campaign briefly, but mostly talked about how the world has changed since September 11, 2001.

Sen. Obama praised the work of the Clinton Foundation around the world and President Clinton applauded Sen. Obama's historic campaign which has inspired millions around the country.

They also spoke about what the next President can do to help make the economy work for all Americans, as it did under President Clinton, and ensure safety and prosperity far beyond the coming election. President Clinton said he looks forward to campaigning for Senator Obama later this month.

A Clinton aide told The Times' Peter Nicholas that along with the Florida appearance, the ex-president will raise money for Obama (apparently a growing source of concern within the candidate's camp) as well as hit the road for him "throughout the rest of the cycle.''

The aide said of the two-hour talk between the two: "It went very well.''

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Associated Press