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Still Courting Soccer Moms

Bill Clinton and Bob Dole discovered a new demographic group in the ’96 election. Now the former President is using his soccer expertise on a global scale.

Former President Bill Clinton isn’t exactly new to international goodwill missions, whether he’s teaming up with his predecessor to work on tsunami relief or his foundation is doing HIV/AIDS work in Australia. But maybe it’s his domestic experience that has best prepared him to make the case that the FIFA World Cup should come to the US in 2018 or 2022.

In announcing that he’s accepted the invitation to be the honorary chair of the US bid, Clinton said, “In my travels around the world—from the dirt fields of Lusaka, Zambia, to playgrounds in schools across America—I’ve seen the transformative power soccer has to bring people together and transform lives on and off the field.” He shouldn’t forget the power of soccer to influence American elections, either. In 1996, he and Republican rival Bob Dole treated so-called suburban “soccer moms” like an electoral holy grail, a newly discovered group that was the Key to Real America. Dole consultant Alex Castellanos may have taken the term national by using it in a July 1996 interview with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. But Clinton ultimately won the demographic over, taking 53 percent of suburban women’s votes.

In the World Cup election, Clinton can concentrate on the FIFA selection committee instead of on a bunch of harried housewives. A delegation will come to inspect possible American sites—including Washington—from September 6 to 9, prior to the selection announcement in December.


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