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Bill Clinton will today officially set aside wounded feelings that arose from the Democrats' long and bitter primary contest as he heads out to Florida to hold his first rally for Barack Obama.
It comes more than a month after Clinton's emotional endorsement speech at the Democrats' convention and amid new speculation about whether he really wants Obama to win the White House.
Clinton's potential to inflict damage on Obama's prospects was underlined again yesterday when John McCain released a new television ad using a clip of the former president to attack the Democrats.
Clinton's two appearances in the politically volatile Orlando and Fort Pierce areas mark his first in the general election season. He is being deployed to get more people to register to vote before the deadline in Florida and other states on Monday.
Clinton is also expected to campaign in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Ohio to encourage people to take part in early voting. Voters in Ohio yesterday began casting absentee ballots following a court ruling that allows residents to register and vote on the same day for the first six days of early voting.
Hillary Clinton has addressed a number of rallies for Obama, and has tried to organise supporters of her campaign into a pro-Obama network. But for all the public protestations of support, her husband has failed to repeat the wholehearted support expressed in his convention speech.
At the Clinton global initiative last week, the former president upset some Democrats by saying he personally liked McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, while adopting a much more impersonal tone when mentioning Obama. He did not even address Obama by name.
Clinton dug himself in even deeper in an interview with NBC at the weekend. When pressed as to whether he liked or admired Obama, he said he hardly knew him until they had lunch on September 11.
"Look, I had my first conversation with him in my entire life in Harlem," said Clinton. "I had talked to him but always in passing ... Hillary is the one who told me to go help him. She said, 'This guy's got real skills. He's got almost unlimited potential.' And so I did."
The unpredictability of Bill Clinton in part informed Al Gore's decision not to use him extensively in the 2000 campaign.
The lack of discipline rebounded on Clinton yesterday when the McCain campaign used his words in a new campaign ad blaming Obama and the Democrats in general for the credit crisis.