Clintons Oppose Change in Democratic Presidential Primary Calendar

Former President Clinton says both he and his wife oppose a change to the Democratic presidential primary calendar that would allow another state to hold a caucus after Iowa and before the New Hampshire primary.

Clinton said his opposition to the Democratic National Committee plan has nothing to do with loyalty to the state that helped launch his 1992 campaign and everything to do with the need to preserve the integrity of the election process.

After starting in the back of the pack, Clinton turned his second-place finish in New Hampshire that year into a victory, dubbing himself the "Comeback Kid."

He said the one-on-one campaigning that he did in New Hampshire made him a better candidate and president.

"I didn't win, but I got something very special out of this," he told reporters Tuesday before attending a state Democratic Party fundraiser. "I worry about the continued compressing of the calendar robbing the candidates of the opportunity to do what they have to do."

He said his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, also opposes the committee's plan.

"She believes what I believe about what I got out of New Hampshire," he said. "She has exactly the same feeling I do."

Sen. Clinton is up for re-election this year and is seen as the front-runner if she decides to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

If the full DNC adopts the plan, one state would be allowed to hold a caucus between Iowa's caucus and the New Hampshire primary in 2008, and a second would hold a primary shortly after the New Hampshire contest. The District of Columbia and 10 states, including Clinton's home state of Arkansas, have applied to fill the two slots.

Supporters said limiting the new states to two instead of the four that some had proposed would accomplish the goal of increasing racial and ethnic diversity without front-loading the calendar or diminishing the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Clinton accused Republicans of putting ideology over evidence and discussion in last week's Senate debate on whether to set a timetable for removing troops from Iraq. Republicans assailed Democrats for a defeatist view of the war and a cut-and-run policy.

"We try to have a serious debate and what do they do? They practically call us traitors," he said. "Why? Because it's the only leg they've got to stand on."