Bill Clinton Rallies Rural America Through Wal-Mart and Pundits

ABC News' Sarah Amos reports: Former President Bill Clinton has always been a prominent subject in the media's coverage of the Democratic primary. In the past week however, Clinton has found himself the topic of even more articles than usual -- many dissecting his role in courting the rural vote.

Lately, Clinton has been choosing not to ignore these often critical articles. Instead, he has found good use for his daily clippings in the past week, weaving a few choice ideas into his stump speeches.

In Oregon this past Saturday, Clinton told the crowd about an Associated Press article he read about his trip to rural parts of the state.

"There's an article, I just read an article in The Associated Press that quotes a Reed college political science professor who says that my coming to see you wont work. Now listen, he said that Hillary's decision to reach out to rural Oregon was -- quote -- 'old politics,'" Clinton told a crowd in Junction City, Ore., making sure to hammer home the point that Hillary Clinton cares abour rural America, no matter what others might say.

Today, in Elkin, N.C., Clinton had a different article to talk about -- but the same message to deliver.

"I love my duties in this campaign because I'm basically the ambassador of Hillary's campaign to rural America, to small-town America," Clinton told a cheering crowd in a gymnasium. "And a lot of the political and press elites that haven't been for her from the get-go have made fun of this. I noticed some fellow wrote an article making fun of me campaigning places lilke Elkin and he said, 'Next thing you know, Bill Clinton will be taking Wal-Mart greeters to the polls.' See, now he thought that was a put-down. You know what I thought? I thought that was a good idea, why didn't I think of that? That would run our totals up."

There was one problem with Clinton's re-hashing of the article. The New Yorker story he referred to actually took the Wal-Mart quote from a Clinton advisor, who joked that Clinton's Pennsylvania election day plans were "leading a caravan of Wal-Mart greeters to the polls."

But that error meant nothing to the small-town crowd before Clinton, many of whom reacted as though Clinton's comments were proof that the Clinton campaign really cared about them -- no matter what the political pundits might think.

Whether the former president takes offense at these articles is not always clear. There can be a mixture of insult and indiference in Clinton's delivery.

What is clear is the rallying cry the former president is attempting to build with such remarks. As Hillary's "rural hitman," Bill Clinton is out to prove that his wife is the candidate who really cares about the issues and people in rural America.

If the people in these crowds want a president "who is a tough enough politician to make her husband escort Wal-Mart greeters to the polls," they should support Hillary, according to Clinton.

And with seven stops across rural North Carolina planned for Wednesday, it is surely a point he isn't going to stop touting anytime before next Tuesday's primary.

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