Former President Bill Clinton is coming to his wife’s defense after she stumbled over media questions about her personal wealth, giving conservatives ammunition to paint her as an out-of-touch plutocrat who can’t relate to working Americans.
On Tuesday, Bill Clinton insisted to David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in Denver that Hillary Clinton – who is widely considered the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner – is “not out of touch” and has long championed policies that help the poor and middle class.
He did acknowledge that his spouse didn’t “give the most adept answer.”
“You can say, ‘Okay, I gotta clean that up,’ which she did,” Bill Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton – while promoting her new memoir “Hard Choices” – has flubbed questions related to her and her husband’s personal wealth, which is estimated to be in the tens of millions.
Earlier this month, the former secretary of state told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer – during an interview from a luxurious sitting room in her multi-million dollar Washington, D.C. home – that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. And over the weekend, Hillary Clinton told The Guardian that she’s not “truly well-off” compared to the wealthiest Americans.
“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Bill Clinton told Gregory Tuesday. “Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic. I’m shocked that it happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks. And so I’m grateful,” the former president said.
Bill Clinton also recounted his wife, when they were in law school, trying to get legal assistance for poor people and believing in paid leave for pregnant mothers in the 1970s.
“She’s not out of touch,” he said. “And she advocated and worked as a senator for things that were good for ordinary people. And before that, all her life. And the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.”
Hillary Clinton has said she’ll decide by the end of this year whether she will launch a second bid for president.
It’s not just Republicans who pounced on her remarks. Vice President Joe Biden – who is also considering a 2016 run—seemingly jabbed Hillary Clinton on Monday, describing his own more meager financial status at a summit on working families.
Biden, a longtime Democratic senator from Delaware before joining the Obama ticket, said he didn’t have a single stock or bond. he called himself “the poorest man in Congress.” (Still, the Bidens’ estimated net worth is between $336,804 and $2.3 million – far more than that of most Americans.)
Gregory’s entire interview with Bill Clinton will air on Sunday and was part of a discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative event in Colorado.