By Karin Caifa in Washington, D.C.
Bill Clinton's comments about his wife's chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination raised eyebrows this week, and today the former president clarified.
The day before the New Hampshire primary, when polls suggested Hillary Clinton might suffer another loss to Barack Obama, the former president offered strong words about the candidacy of the senator from Illinois.
Speaking in Hanover Monday, Bill Clinton criticized the media for giving Obama what he characterized as a free pass on his position on the Iraq war. "It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once," he said.
"Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."
"Give me a break," the former president concluded. "This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
It was that last line about a "fairy tale," that turned heads, with Clinton critics finding the characterization of the Obama campaign disrespectful. This afternoon, the former president called into Al Sharpton's syndicated radio program to explain his remarks.
"There's nothing fairy tale about his campaign. It's real, it's strong, and he might win," Clinton told Sharpton during the Radio One broadcast.
Clinton said he was speaking of one issue, not making a generalization about Obama's campaign. "The point I was trying to make is there really no difference between his voting record and Hillary's on Iraq. So what matters now is who can do the best job of getting us out of there without making it worse."
He told the largely African-American radio audience that while he hopes they'll support his wife's candidacy, he understands the choice that they face.
"You have a hard choice, and if you decide to vote for Senator Obama, I respect you, because it is a source of enormous pride in the African-American community, and it should be. He is an impressive man," Clinton said.