Bill Clinton has spoken out in defense of his wife Hillary’s work on Wal-Mart’s board of directors, saying it was “the right thing to do.”
Hillary served on the board of the Arkansas-based chain from 1986 to 1992, while Bill was the governor of Arkansas, and Hillary’s presidential rival Barack Obama cast that work in a negative light during Monday’s debate in South Carolina.
A voter asked Bill on Thursday about Hillary’s Wal-Mart stint at a campaign event in South Carolina, and he had a ready reply, ABC News reported:
“When she was asked to go on the board of Wal-Mart, they had no women in positions of management, and they had no environmental profile. She was asked if she would serve and try to help them become more environmentally sensitive, and she agreed to do it.”
Clinton continued: “Even Mal-Mart’s strongest critics agree that it’s one of the leading forces for trying to help make America more economically independent on the energy front.”
He mentioned Wal-Mart’s sales of energy-efficient light bulbs and its effort this year to reduce packaging by 5 percent.
Said Clinton: “So yes, she served on the board, and yes, I think it was the right thing to do under the circumstances of the time.”
But David Nasser, executive director of Wal-Mart Watch and a critic of the company, told ABC News: “We respectfully disagree with former President Clinton’s characterization of Wal-Mart as a benign, benevolent corporation striving for self-improvement either during Sen. Clinton’ tenure on the board or at present…
“Wal-Mart has made no meaningful progress regarding the company’s poor business practices, including gender discrimination, low wages, inadequate health care, overseas sourcing or environmental degradation.”
And Obama spokesman Bill Burton told ABC the campaign was pleased that Hillary’s work with Wal-Mart was becoming an issue.
“If they want to defend her service to one of the least environmentally friendly, least labor union friendly companies in the country,” he said, “they’re welcome to do that.”
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