NEW YORK – Former President Clinton (search) said Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search) is smart not to comment daily on every development in Iraq because "he recognizes that he's not the president."
Clinton also said his memoirs, due out weeks before this summer's Democratic National Convention (search), won't steal Kerry's spotlight and will only help the party.
Speaking at his office in Harlem, Clinton said he didn't think Kerry was running "too safe a campaign." Some political strategists have suggested Kerry is failing to exploit increasing skepticism about President Bush's handling of the war, as violence in Iraq escalates and more details emerge about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
"He's the candidate for president, he's not somebody that's supposed to give day-by-day commentary on events," Clinton said. "He's made quite clear what he believes about the major issues in the news today, and I think he's shown a certain reticence."
The former president said that "given the seriousness of the problems we face in the world today, I think it's been quite appropriate."
Clinton, talking to reporters, said Kerry should be focused on letting "the American people get to know him, who he is, what he's for, what he wants to do, and then clarify, on his terms, the differences between himself and the president."
Clinton on occasion offers advice to Kerry on the running of the campaign. Kerry aides have said the former president will play a prominent role at the Democratic convention, which is July 26-29 in Boston.
The former president said he hopes his memoir, due for release June 22, stimulates interest in the elections and the party.
"I think that it will not detract in any way," Clinton said. "I hope it will make citizens believe in politics more and believe in the importance of elections more and understand the honest differences between the two parties more."
"My Life" will run an estimated 900 pages and Clinton received a reported $10 million to $12 million advance. An almost certain best seller, the book has a first print run of 1.5 million copies.
"I try to give people a feel for what it's like to be president," Clinton said about the book, which he spent more than two years writing at his suburban New York home in Chappaqua, sometimes working through the night and often to 3 a.m. or later.
Clinton dismissed a published report he is seeking an apartment in Manhattan, saying he prefers his suburban home, a farmhouse built in 1889.
"I'm a kind of a nester -- I've got a place to live and I'm going to live there," he said.
Clinton was speaking at a news conference to discuss the expansion of a small business aid program initiated by his office. The program has provided free consulting services to entrepreneurs in Harlem and will expand to businesses in Brooklyn and the Bronx.