Former President Clinton on Thursday apologized for repeatedly stepping on the Obama campaign’s message in recent days and said that his comments were not intended to undercut the president.
The controversy kicked off when he took the opposite position of Obama on extending the Bush-era tax cuts. Clinton told CNN that he didn’t realize that a decision on the tax cuts did not need to be made until after the election and that he supports Obama’s position against extending the cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
“I'm very sorry about what happened. I was under the impression that they had to do something before the election, and I was trying to figure out how they would kick it to after the election,” Clinton said. “Once I realized that nothing had to be done until the first of the year, I support his position. I supported extending them last year, but I think [Obama’s] position is the right one and [it’s] necessary for us to be in a comprehensive deal.”
Later in the interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer, he added, “I support his position, and I think on the merits, upper-income people will have to contribute to the long-term debt reduction.”
Clinton also said his comment about Romney having had a “sterling” business career was taken out of context. “You can be a successful businessperson, and you can be governor of a state and be 35 years old, and by definition, you qualify to be president. But in the same sentence … I said he shouldn’t be elected because his ideas and policies I don’t think are good for America.”
Romney's top accomplishment as Massachusetts governor, Clinton said, was the state's health care law that was a model for the national one later embraced by Obama and passed by Congress. However it's widely criticized by conservatives today. “Keep in mind, from my point of view, the best thing he did as governor was to sign the health care bill, which he’s renounced,” he said.
The former president, who famously feuded with the Obama campaign during the 2008 primaries when his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton also sought the Democratic nomination, adamantly disputed claims that he is intentionally sabotaging Obama’s reelection campaign. He noted that he did 40 political events for Obama after the primary fight once it was clear Obama would be the nominee, and that he has already headlined a major fundraiser for him this year.
“I am strongly committed to his reelection,” Clinton said. “And I just regret that, my instinct is, I don’t think I should have to say bad things about Governor Romney personally to disagree with him politically.”
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