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Some things are better left buried

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Samantha Hayes, Washington, D.C.

April 11, 2008

There seems to be a life cycle to negative news, and usually once the story is considered dead and buried, a candidate likes it to stay that way. But there is the occasional resurrection.  I was thinking about this when I read that Bill Clinton defended his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, on the Bosnia flap that erupted a couple weeks ago.

Senator Clinton said she "misspoke" about a trip to Bosnia as the First Lady in 1996. She had described landing under sniper fire and rushing off the landing strip to safety. The video of that trip was dug up and proved otherwise.  News organizations used split screens to show the peaceful greeting Clinton and daughter Chelsea received twelve years ago next to Clinton recalling the trip as very dangerous.  It didn't look good.

But like all stories, negative or otherwise, other things came up in the news cycle to replace it and Clinton looked to be putting the whole thing to rest when she poked fun at the story on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.  Clinton said, "it's so great to be here, I was so worried I wasn't going to make it. I was pinned down by sniper fire."   In political speak, when a candidate makes fun of his or her own negative news, it's usually a cue that its time to finally put the story to rest.

But yesterday, while campaigning for his wife in Boonville, Indiana, former President Bill Clinton said the media overreacted to the whole thing. "You would have thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this," said Clinton, "And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too."

Campaign spokesperson Phil Singer said, "Senator Clinton appreciates her husband standing up for her, but this was her mistake and she takes responsibility for it."

So was that the end of the story? Not yet.

Bill Clinton, continuing with campaign stops in Indiana, told a crowd this morning about a phone call with his wife about the incident. "Hillary called me and said 'You don't remember this. You weren't there, let me handle it'. I said, 'Yes ma'am.'"  Now that sounds more like 'The End."

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