As Hillary White House run looms, questions linger about Bill

“He looked at various points to be hesitant, bored, a little petulant,” said Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson. “I don’t think his presentation was as smooth and engaging as it usually is, which is troublesome.”

In 2008, Bill Clinton lost his temper with reporters on rope lines, made an ill-advised and racially-loaded comparison of Obama with Jesse Jackson, and condemned the media for swallowing what he termed a “fairy tale” about Obama’s foreign policy.

If Hillary’s presidential ambitions are to be protected, the former president will need to do better this time around. Ensuring that outcome will require careful management from his wife’s aides, though that is something the 42nd president strained against in 2008.

“The question for Hillary 2016 is if they can keep him on the rails, because when he’s on track, he’s the strongest campaigner in the country,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a political media consultant at Boston University. “At a cerebral level, yes, he understands that restraint is necessary, but I think the protective political, personal instinct jumps in.”