The absence of Mr. Clinton is a notable shift both for a man who’s boosted Democratic candidates in every election for the past half century and for a party long defined by the former first couple. Hillary Clinton has slowly become a more visible presence in the 2018 election, even seeming to crack open the door to another presidential bid in an interview last week, but she is also a frequent Republican target and a burden to Democrats in some parts of the country.
In an election shaped by the #MeToo movement, where female candidates and voters are likely to drive any Democratic gains, Mr. Clinton finds his legacy tarnished by what some in the party see as his inability to reckon with his sexual indiscretions as president with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, as well as with past allegations of sexual assault. (Mr. Clinton has denied those allegations.) Younger and more liberal voters find little appeal in Mr. Clinton’s reputation for ideological centrism on issues like financial regulation and crime.
“I’m not sure that with all the issues he has, he could really be that helpful to the candidates,” said Tamika D. Mallory, an organizer of the Women’s March, who’s now promoting female candidates across the country. “It would do the Democratic Party well to have Bill Clinton focus on his humanitarian efforts.”