Bill Clinton: Praising Romney's business record doesn't connote endorsement

Former US president Bill Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation's "Decade of Difference" concert on October 15, 2011 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California. The concert celebrates 10 years of the former US president's Clinton Foundation. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) ROBYN BECK

(CBS News) PATERSON, N.J. - Former President Bill Clinton, seeking to contain the political damage from his earlier praise of Mitt Romney's "sterling" business background, said on Friday that his remarks shouldn't be construed as an endorsement.

Appearing on CNN on Thursday, Clinton said of Romney: "A man who's been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold." Conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh crowed that the former president had "basically endorsed" the presumptive GOP nominee.

But at a rally in Paterson to support Rep. Bill Pascrell, Clinton said his remarks got "twisted around."

"I said, you know, Governor Romney had a good career in business and he was a governor, so he crosses the qualification threshold for him being president," Clinton said. "But he shouldn't be elected, because he is wrong on the economy and all these other issues.

"So today, because I didn't attack him personally and bash him, I wake up to read all these stories taking it out of context as if I had virtually endorsed him, which means the tea party has already won their first great victory: 'We are supposed to hate each to disagree.' That is wrong."

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    Rodney Hawkins covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.