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Bill Clinton's back in the campaign game big time

The Obama campaign said Saturday it was pairing Clinton with another heavyweight, rocker Bruce Springsteen, at a rally this coming Thursday in Ohio, one of the most pivotal states.

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Former President Bill Clinton shakes hands with supporters after speaking at a "Hoosier Common Sense" rally for Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly and Democratic Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in Indianapolis, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.

Michael Conroy/AP

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Bill Clinton is back in the game big time, serving as President Barack Obama's surrogate in chief and relying on his oratorical skill and folksy style to help Democratic candidates.

His high-profile role also gives him the chance to enhance his legacy as Democratic elder statesman and global humanitarian. He can build up political IOUs should his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, decide to run again for president down the road.

Out of office since 2001, Clinton is proving that he retains a strong appeal with voters, especially in conservative states where Democratic candidates aren't eager to appear with Obama. The ex-president is a leading expert in the art of the political comeback – a skill the struggling Obama could use now.

Also, there's this uncomfortable truth: Obama needs Clinton to generate support with white, working-class and independent voters who were drawn to Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but who haven't warmed to Obama.

Bill Clinton: 5 reasons he is helping Obama

"If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good," Romney joked in remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative last month, a nod to Clinton's convention speech.

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