KEENE, N.H. – Bill Clinton said Tuesday that if reporters covered the candidates' public records better, his wife's presidential bid would be far ahead of her rivals.
During a campaign stop on behalf of his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former president said he can't understand why so much of the media coverage of the campaign ignores her experience — and, without naming him, the relative lack of experience of her closest Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
"One percent of the press coverage was devoted to their record in public life. No wonder people think experience is irrelevant. A lot of the people covering the race think it is (irrelevant)," Clinton said to students at Keene State College.
Clinton referenced a study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism that indicated much of the coverage of the race is dominated by daily horse race reporting rather than about policy issues.
"Sixty-seven percent of the coverage is pure politics. That stuff has a half life of about 15 seconds. It won't matter tomorrow. It is very vulnerable to being slanted and rude. And it won't affect your life," Clinton said.
Clinton also said his wife's bipartisan work in the Senate proves she can accomplish her campaign's message of change, and that records matter more than rhetoric. He said that when voters look at records and accomplishments, they will see clear choices between the New York senator and her rivals.
"I would pick her and be here if we weren't married," Clinton said.
Clinton recalled that this western New Hampshire town was the place he first thought he stood a chance of winning his Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He did not win the 1992 New Hampshire primary, but his second-place finish helped him position himself as "the Comeback Kid."
Hillary Rodham Clinton began the current campaign as the Democratic front-runner, but now faces a tightening race here and in Iowa. Her husband is one of several marquee surrogates trekking through snowy New Hampshire. Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling planned to join Republican Sen. John McCain on Wednesday. Oprah Winfrey planned to join Obama on Sunday.