A November 13 Washington Times article on former President Bill Clinton's recent campaign appearances in South Carolina reported, "While Mr. Clinton drew fire on both sides of the political aisle when he compared sharp criticism of his wife [Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)] by her opponents at a recent Democratic debate in Philadelphia to the 'swift-boating' attacks leveled by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, he was upbeat and less defensive yesterday, assuring the crowd that his wife was strong enough to take a political punch." But, as Media Matters for America documented, Bill Clinton did not "compare sharp criticism of his wife by her opponents" at the Democratic debate to "swift-boating." Rather, in a November 5 speech, he criticized Republican attacks on Democrats and the role the media play in contributing to such attacks.
From Clinton's speech:
PRESIDENT CLINTON: [T]he point I'm here to make to you is whoever you're for, this is a really big election. We saw what happened the last seven years when we made decisions in elections based on trivial matters. When we listened to people make snide comments about whether Vice President [Al] Gore was too stiff. When they made dishonest claims about the things that he said that he'd done in his life. When that scandalous Swift boat ad was run against Senator [John] Kerry [D-MA].
When there was an ad that defeated [former Sen.] Max Cleland [D] in Georgia -- a man that left half his body in Vietnam. And a guy that had several deferments ran an ad with Max Cleland's picture with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, because he dared to vote against the president's version of the Homeland Security bill.
Why am I saying this?
Because, I had the feeling, at the end of that last debate, we were about to get into cutesy land again. "Ya'll raise your hand if you're for illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses." So, we'll then let the Republicans run an ad saying, "All the Democrats are against the rule of law."
I don't -- look, I think it's fine to discuss immigration. We should. Illegal immigration needs to be discussed, and it's fine for Hillary and all these other guys to be asked about Governor Spitzer's plan -- but not in 30 seconds, yes, no, raise your hand. This is a complicated issue. This is a complicated issue.
So, do I hope you'll 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 and to your children -- and to the future of America.
Don't be diverted. Don't be divided. Our best days are still ahead, claim them. Thank you.
As Media Matters noted, several media outlets falsely reported that Clinton had criticized Democratic presidential candidates for "swift-boating" his wife following her response to a question from Democratic presidential debate moderator Tim Russert about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D) proposal to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
From the November 13 Washington Times article:
Former President Bill Clinton told voters in South Carolina yesterday that the "boys" have been ganging up on his wife in recent weeks but that she can take it.
"She's been doing this on her own for a long time now," said Mr. Clinton during a visit to a hair salon and day spa on a daylong trip through this decidedly red state on behalf of the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.
"She knows that personal attacks are a part of politics," Mr. Clinton told reporters as he greeted the women getting their hair relaxed and curled at Anjea's Hair Studio and Spa. In recent weeks, other Democratic candidates, particularly Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, have sharpened their criticism of the former first lady, the front-runner for the nomination.
Mr. Clinton received a warm welcome yesterday from about 800 supporters and students gathered on Veterans Day at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C., for a rally supporting Mrs. Clinton, who was not present at either rally.
While Mr. Clinton drew fire on both sides of the political aisle when he compared sharp criticism of his wife by her opponents at a recent Democratic debate in Philadelphia to the "swift-boating" attacks leveled by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, he was upbeat and less defensive yesterday, assuring the crowd that his wife was strong enough to take a political punch.
"It's a great time to be a Democrat," Mr. Clinton said to cheers, adding that the Democrats have a strong slate of candidates running for president.
"I like it because even though those boys have been getting kind of tough on her, she can handle it," he said. "I like all the people in my party's primary."