Former President Clinton on Monday compared Republican criticism of his wife's position on driver's license for illegal immigrants to the ads that helped sink John Kerry's White House hopes in 2004.

"I had the feeling that at the end of that last debate we were about to get into cutesy land again," Clinton told some 3,000 members of the American Postal Worker's Union at a convention.

At the end of a televised Democratic presidential debate last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton hedged on whether she supported a plan by her home state governor, New York's Eliot Spitzer, to issue licenses to illegal immigrants.

Republicans — and her rivals for the Democratic nomination — quickly criticized her answer, accusing her of trying to have it both ways.

But Bill Clinton said the issue is too complicated for sound bites.

"It's fine for Hillary and all the other Democrats to discuss Governor Spitzer's plan. But not in 30 seconds — yes, no, raise your hand," he said.

The former president told the union members not to let the Republican attacks distract them from the important issues of health care and education reform.

He compared the driver's license dustup to television ads during the 2004 presidential campaign that questioned Kerry's patriotism, and campaign commercials in 2002 suggesting that former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was soft on terrorism.

Clinton urged the union members to vote Democratic for president no matter who the party nominates.

"So do I hope you vote for my wife? You bet I do. It'd be good for America, and good for the world. But, more than that I came here to tell you today, don't you dare let them take this election away from you. This belongs to you."