Former president Bill Clinton was embroiled Tuesday in a new campaign flap after accusing his wife's White House rival Barack Obama of playing "the race card on me."
A day after making the race card remark in a radio interview, in a discussion about January's bruising South Carolina primary, Clinton told reporters in Pittsburgh: "No, no, no. That's not what I said.
"You always follow me around and play these little games, and I'm not going to play your games today. This is a day about election day," he said, as Pennsylvania Democrats decided between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
"You have mischaracterized it to get another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your game today. Have a nice day," the former president added.
Interviewed Monday by a Philadelphia radio station, Clinton was asked whether it was a mistake by him in January to liken Obama's candidacy to the African-American Jesse Jackson's in 1988.
"No. I think that they (the Obama campaign) played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything, that they planned to do it all along," Clinton had told the WHYY station.
After the interview was over but with the microphone still on, Clinton was heard to growl: "I don't think I should take any s(expletive) from anybody on that, do you?"
Clinton's South Carolina remark alienated several top black Democrats, who saw an attempt by the former president to belittle the mixed-race Obama and portray his White House bid as fueled only by African-American support.
Asked about Clinton's latest intervention Tuesday while campaigning in Pittsburgh, Obama said he had "no idea" what the former president was talking about.
"Was there a plan to get him to say that my campaign was like Jesse Jackson's? I don't know what he was referring to, unfortunately," the Illinois senator told reporters.
"So former president Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it? OK, well you better ask him what he meant by that," he said.
Clinton adopted a much lower profile on his wife's campaign trail after the South Carolina primary, which Obama won in a landslide.
But the former president has periodically waded into controversy, most recently being admonished by Hillary Clinton for reviving her exaggerated claim that she endured sniper fire during a 1996 trip to Bosnia.