CHICAGO – Former President Clinton said Wednesday that all the Democratic presidential candidates could be open to a "swift boat kind of ad" if they try to give quick responses to complicated issues like driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
A day after being criticized for defending his wife, the former president tried to explain his comments linking criticism of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the swift boat campaign against John Kerry's military record in the 2004 campaign. Bill Clinton made the comparison Monday during a speech in Las Vegas.
Sen. Chris Dodd said it was "way over the top." Sen. Barack Obama said he was stunned to hear the former president make such a comparison.
At the end of a Democratic presidential debate last week, Hillary Clinton hedged when asked whether she supported a plan by her home state governor to issue licenses to illegal immigrants. Dodd, Obama and others have accused her of trying to have it both ways on the issue.
Bill Clinton said Wednesday he didn't think it was a good idea to tackle such a complicated issue by asking the candidates to answer with hand-raising. He said candidates should have enough time to give full answers.
"I thought it made all the Democrats vulnerable to a swift-boat-kind of ad in the general election," Clinton told reporters after a rally at a South Side ballroom with several hundred of his wife's supporters. The event was closed to the media.
"When you have complicated issues, you don't want to turn them into two-dimensional cartoons," he said.