[Guest post by DRJ]
Not the way you’re thinking. Apparently it’s easy to get Bill Clinton off-message:
“Former President Bill Clinton had a testy encounter Tuesday with reporters who questioned his remarks in a radio interview in which he accused Barack Obama’s campaign of unfairly playing the race card on him.
“You always follow me around and play these little games,” Clinton shot back at an ABC News reporter who questioned him about a phone interview with Philadelphia public radio station WHYY.
On Monday, an audibly irritated Clinton railed against the Obama campaign for what he described as an effort to twist comments made in South Carolina on Jan. 26, the Palmetto State’s presidential primary election day.
In the remarks that sparked the furor, Clinton compared Obama’s campaign to that of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
“Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice in ‘84 and’88, and he ran a good campaign, and Senator Obama has run a good campaign. He has run a good campaign everywhere. He’s got a good — He is a good candidate with a good organization,” Clinton said.
Obama supporters said the remarks were meant to belittle Obama by comparing him with a black candidate whose appeal was more narrow. Obama called the remarks hallmarks of the politics of racism.
Asked Monday if he regretted the comment, Clinton responded: “No, I think that they played the race card on me, and we now know from memos in the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along.
“Do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you’ve really got to go some (distance) to portray me as a racist,” Clinton said, adding that he has an office in Harlem, and Jackson told him personally he was not offended.
“I called him and asked him if he found anything offensive. And he just laughed and he said, ‘Of course I don’t. We all know what’s going on,’ ” Clinton said.”
Tad Devine, a Democratic consultant not involved in either campaign, agrees it’s easy to get Bill off-message because ex-Presidents are more uninhibited than candidates and their spouses:
“When you’re president and particularly when you’re ex-president, you feel very uninhibited saying things,” said Devine. “People listen to you and your words are really taken seriously.”
“[Bill Clinton] is just not constrained like most people in campaigns are,” said Devine. “And when the attention is at a fever pitch any little thing that you say will be amplified.”
Ed Rollins thinks Bill should go to Little Rock and be quiet until the race is over but I disagree. I think Bill should talk and talk and talk.