WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Friday defended her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for defending her on the campaign trail in Iowa.
With Hillary Clinton’s campaign having hit a rough patch lately based on a rocky performance at a October 30 debate with her rivals, the Clinton camp sent Bill Clinton out to Iowa to try to rally support for her in the early voting state.
The former president took on the task with gusto. In one speech, he cited a survey by a Canadian pollster that said many people in France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Canada preferred Hillary Clinton to be the next U.S. president.
“In every country, without question, if you take out the undecided, she had the absolute majority,” Clinton said, according to Politico.com. “They like her, they respect her.”
The statement was quickly pounced on by the Republican National Committee, which said it sounded similar to a comment in 2004 by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who said some foreign leaders wanted him to defeat George W. Bush.
“It is deja vu all over again,” said RNC spokesman Danny Diaz. “First the Kerrys, now the Clintons.”
Then Clinton defended his wife over perennial Republican criticism of her role, when she was first lady, in the failed 1993 attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system.
“She has taken the rap for some of the problems we had with health care last time that were far more my fault than hers,” said Bill.
New York Sen. Clinton was asked about her husband in a conference call with reporters on Friday arranged to announce that she had received the endorsement of Ohio Gov. Ted Stickland, an important development in a critical battleground state in the November 2008 election.
Was she comfortable with Bill’s role in the campaign? she was asked.
“Absolutely,” Clinton said. “I am so happy to have his help in this campaign. He obviously counsels and advises me every single day.”
THRILLED BY HIS SUPPORT
“I’m thrilled to have his support and look forward to being able to call at him in every capacity I can imagine,” she said.
Arianna Huffington, editor of the liberal blog, Huffingtonpost.com, was not impressed by the former president’s efforts recently.
“He’s becoming a liability,” she told MSNBC. “Send him to Africa.”
Iowa on January 3 holds the first of the state-by-state battles to choose the Democratic and Republican candidates who will vie for the U.S. presidential election on November 4, 2008.
A win in Iowa can generate momentum for the next state contest in New Hampshire, and beyond, and Clinton is locked in a three-way battle with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky
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