(Adds Republican reaction, employment plan)
By Gabriel Debenedetti
DENVER, June 24 Former U.S. President Bill
Clinton jumped to his wife Hillary's defense on Tuesday, saying
that the potential presidential candidate is "not out of touch,"
after criticism that she mishandled media questions about their
Hillary Clinton told ABC News earlier this month that the
couple had been "dead broke" after leaving the White House in
2001 and then drew more fire after suggesting to The Guardian
newspaper last weekend that the Clintons are not "truly well
"It is factually true that we were several million dollars
in debt," Bill Clinton said Tuesday of the couple's previous
financial situation. He was speaking to NBC News' David Gregory,
in an interview that will air on Sunday.
Bill Clinton said his wife, a former secretary of state and
likely Democratic contender for the White House in 2016, has
been working to reduce poverty for as long as he has known her,
and that this was reflected in her tenure in the U.S. Senate.
The Clintons' finances have become a tricky subject for her
possible White House ambitions.
Hillary Clinton, who did not grow up wealthy, has given a
series of speeches that earn her up to $250,000 each since
leaving the State Department in 2013. Bill Clinton also delivers
lucrative speeches, and tax returns released in 2007 showed the
two had earned $109 million jointly since 2001. The couple owns
a pair of homes - one in Washington and one in Chappaqua, New
The Clintons are in Denver for a Clinton Global Initiative
conference where Hillary unveiled a plan to help employ and
train young people by partnering with major corporations
including JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Marriott
Hillary Clinton also announced corporate partnership plans
for child development programs in low-income areas, giving her a
chance to promote her work with underserved communities.
"The best thing she can do is focus on policy, because here
she has a rather strong record of championing programs that
would help the middle class," said Julian Zelizer, professor of
political history at Princeton University. "This is a great
opportunity to champion her idea about how the corporate
community can be enlisted to fight for the disadvantaged."
Hillary Clinton is in the midst of an international
publicity tour for her new memoir, "Hard Choices."
"Hillary has portrayed herself as someone who is in line with
the middle class but recent comments show just how out of touch
she has become - equating giving million dollar speeches with
hard work and millions in wealth with being dead broke,"
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.
A possible rival for the Democratic nomination, Vice
President Joe Biden appeared to try to draw a distinction
between himself and Clinton when he said on Monday: "Don't hold
it against me that I don't own a single stock or bond," noting
that he is listed as the "poorest man in Congress."
(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; editing by Alistair Bell,