Bill Clinton’s assertion that his wife Hillary faced a Republican-style “swift boat” attack during and after the recent Democratic debate has drawn fire from Democratic rival Barack Obama.
The former president on Monday attended a postal workers’ convention in Nevada and discussed attempts by the debate moderators and Hillary’s rivals to get her to explain her stance on giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
He likened attacks on Hillary to a “scandalous” 2004 ad by John Kerry’s fellow swift boat Vietnam veterans, which questioned Kerry’s military valor.
After citing the swift boat ad, Clinton said: “Why am I saying this? Because I had the feeling that at the end of that last debate we were about to get into cutesy land again.”
Obama reacted to Clinton’s remarks in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, saying: “I was pretty stunned by that statement.”
He also said about Bill’s comments: “How you would then draw an analogy to distorting somebody’s military record is a reach.”
Another Democratic candidate, Christopher Dodd, also criticized the former president, saying his statements were “outrageous” and “way over the top in my view,” according to the New York Times.
Even the Hillary Clinton campaign sought to distance Hillary from her husband’s comments. A senior adviser to the campaign said the remarks were considered counterproductive, the New York Post reported.
And campaign spokesman Jay Carson claimed that Bill Clinton had not been referring to Democratic candidates’ criticism of Hillary, but to Republicans’ criticism of her performance during the debate, adding that Obama was well aware of that.
But the Post observed that by taking on Bill Clinton, Obama was going after one of Hillary’s key campaign assets — the enormously popular former president, who is currently stumping for his wife in Iowa.
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