Bill Clinton "Just Can't Help Himself"

Former President Bill Clinton again overshadowed his presidential candidate-wife with remarks on the campaign trail which, rather than clear the air over Hillary Clinton's statements on Bosnia, only seemed to muddy the waters.

In Indiana Thursday, President Clinton said Sen. Clinton has "misstated" the circumstances of her arrival in Bosnia under sniper fire - a comment that was quickly refuted by a CBS News video of her 1996 trip - but suggested that the brouhaha over her remarks (by the media and her opponents) was exaggerated. "You would have thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this."

But the former president's defense of his wife - that she had made the comment late at night after long hours of campaigning - was itself refuted by CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod, who showed the New York Senator making her remarks early one morning after a day of rest.

Now the question being asked is, with Hillary's Bosnia comments having long died down (the Senator has even joked about it several times), why would the former president raise the matter again, and make inaccurate points in doing so?

"You can hear both Republicans and Democrats say about President Clinton, which has been said so many times before, 'He just can't help himself,'" Politico columnist Mike Allen told Early Show anchor Debbye Turner.

Allen likened the feeling within the Clinton campaign to the famous "Saturday Night Live" skit during the 1988 presidential race, "where Michael Dukakis said about George Bush's father, 'I can't believe I'm losing to this guy.'

"I think that this reflects extreme frustration inside the Clinton family, inside the Clinton campaign, about the trajectory of this race."

"When you are supporting someone you love, you really do take it very much to heart," Sen. Clinton said during a recent appearance on "The Tonight Show." "I've told him, 'Okay, honey, that's all right. We don't have to get excited about it.' So he's doing a great job for me, but he does get a little carried away sometimes."

Allen said it sounded as if Hillary is distancing herself from Bill.

"It looks like she's saying, 'Honey, cool it, shut up, chill out.' These comments have just raised issues that hurt her, such as his earlier remarks that hurt her with black voters. And he and Chelsea Clinton are out very hard campaigning hard for her, but this keeps coming up.

"Some even wonder if there's a perverse psychology where he's trying to undermine her campaign. I don't think that's right, because her election would help his legacy, make him a much bigger historic figure. But as your correspondents can tell you, he's been pulled way back from the press. There aren't cameras on rope lines anymore. They try to keep him quiet.

"But he goes out and boom, has a whole different story than what the campaign wanted."

A year and a half ago, with Hillary Clinton seen as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Bill Clinton was seen as her campaign's strongest weapon. And now?

"People talked about the mixed blessing of Bill Clinton," Allen said. "He had always looked like an unalloyed asset. He reminded Democrats, many Americans of a better time, [and is] one of the greatest political strategists who has ever lived in America. But instead he's just turned out to be a distraction. So yes, indeed, you will see less of him.

"He's such a contrast to Chelsea Clinton, their daughter, who has done more than 100 question-and-answers at colleges, most of them on camera, with not one flub."
  • CBSNews

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