NEW YORK (AFP) - Bill Clinton on Monday (Jan 4) called his wife Hillary the most qualified US presidential candidate in more than half a century, at his first solo campaign event for her 2016 election bid.
The former president went to New Hampshire in support of his wife, the former secretary of state, senator and first lady who leads polls for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
Clinton addressed a rally at a community college in the city of Nashua, paying tribute to Hillary's determination to make America a fairer, safer country for the poor and struggling middle classes.
He made no direct reference to Donald Trump, the brash billionaire dominating the Republican race for the White House who recently stepped up personal attacks on both Clintons.
"I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job in a moment of great importance who is better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done," the 69-year-old said.
New Hampshire is host to the nation's first presidential primary on Feb 9.
Bill Clinton said Hillary's skill set "offers the best chance to have the most rapid movement to more broadly shared prosperity."
"In an uncertain world, where borders look more like nets than walls, and no one is in total control, she understands what it takes to keep our country as safe as possible," he said, dressed in an open-necked shirt, dark pullover and blazer, wearing a Hillary pin on his lapel.
He lauded her record as secretary of state and provoked laughter by joking: "I didn't think she could do that," in reference to getting China and Russia to sign off on sanctions against Iran.
When they met at Yale Law School 45 years ago, he said he thought she was "the most amazing person" who could have secured any job in life but who wanted only to provide legal aid to the poor.
"Everything she touched, she made better," he said, paying tribute to her long career and calling her a "change maker."
Trump, the real estate tycoon who has led Republican polls for months, recently blasted Bill Clinton's "terrible record" with women - an apparent allusion to his past alleged marital infidelities.
"The worst thing Hillary could do is have her husband campaign for her. Just watch," he tweeted to his 5.5 million followers on Sunday.
Republicans in Congress tried but failed in 1998 to remove Bill Clinton from the White House for alleged perjury and obstruction during an investigation into an alleged affair.