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Bill Clinton says he has learned a lesson

The Former US President admits that his remarks during campaigning for his wife Hillary provoked a verbal duel between her and her main Democratic rival Barack Obama.

world Updated: Feb 09, 2008 11:06 IST
Sridhar Krishnaswami
Sridhar Krishnaswami

Former President Bill Clinton has said he learned a lesson from the verbal duel between his wife Hillary and her main Democratic rival which erupted after comments he made during Presidential campaigning, while maintaining that he never personally attacked Barack Obama.

"I think the mistake that I made is to think that I was a spouse like any other spouse who could defend his candidate. I think I can promote Hillary but not defend her because I was president," Clinton said.

Clinton's comments while campaigning for his wife, including comparing Obama's bid to the unsuccessful campaign of an earlier black presidential hopeful, Jesse Jackson, resulted in a bitter war of words between the two top Democratic contenders.

But Clinton said on Friday that a lot of the media reports were "factually inaccurate".

"I did not ever criticise Senator Obama personally in South Carolina. I never criticised him personally," he said.

"But I think whenever I defend her, I, A, risk being misquoted and, B, risk being the story. I don't want to be the story," he added.

"I need to promote her but not defend her. And I learned a very valuable lesson from all that dust-up."

Clinton also ruled out keeping away from Hillary's campaign, rejecting a suggestion from some quarters.

"I think that I have a lot of insight into what it takes to be president and what the challenges of the present day are. I would be campaigning for her if we were not married. She's the best qualified person to be president I've ever had a chance to support, and I feel strongly about it. And I think there's nothing wrong with me saying that," he said.