Hillary Rodham Clinton's not-so-secret weapon — her husband, Bill — is raising cash and enlisting support for his wife's presidential bid, focusing in part on keeping black Democrats from bolting to rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards.
The former president has mostly remained in the shadows as his wife has stepped into the spotlight of her groundbreaking campaign for the 2008 presidential election, defining herself for voters who largely remember her as first lady even though she has been a US senator for six years.
While she campaigned in the early primary voting state of New Hampshire last week, he took her place at a Westchester County Democratic Party breakfast not far from their suburban New York home.
His only mention of her candidacy was a brief "Glad Hillary decided to throw her hat in the ring."
Behind the scenes, however, Clinton has phoned major donors and hosted small fundraisers for business leaders and other backers.
Next month, he will headline two major galas for her campaign in New York and Washington in which top donors are being asked to raise as much as $250,000 each.
The New York invitation announces "The event of this quarter! ... The first Celebratory Dinner with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and President William Jefferson Clinton."
More important to Senator Clinton is her husband's reputation as a hero in the black community -- novelist Toni Morrison dubbed him "the first black president" in a 1998 essay.
She will be fighting for support from a critical Democratic constituency against Obama, who is a black.