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Obama Defends Bill Clinton


From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

(CHICAGO) Barack Obama defended Bill Clinton today for not giving him a splashy endorsement, explaining that the former president probably did not want to upstage his wife.

"I'm going to be appearing with Senator Clinton, the former president's wife who was involved in an epic, historic primary with me, and then I'm going to be campaigning with her on Friday," Obama said today at a press conference, "So it's understandable that the former president wouldn't want to upstage what is going to be, I think, a terrific unity event over the next day and a half."

Bill Clinton gave his support to Obama yesterday but did so through a spokesman. Hillary Clinton explained that her husband is currently in Europe to celebrate Nelson Mandela's birthday and thus could only issue a written statement.

Obama offered words of praise for both Clintons today, calling Bill Clinton a "brilliant politician" and Hillary Clinton a "terrific campaigner."

"I think we can send Senator Clinton anywhere and she'll be effective," he said.

Obama also said that he encouraged his large donors to help Clinton retire her campaign debt but said that he will not ask his small donors to do the same. Although he said will not discourage small donors from helping Senator Clinton, he explained that their contributions wouldn't have a big impact in bringing down her debt.

"I'm not going to be individually contacting $15 donors because frankly it probably wouldn't be that effective in terms of making a big dent in Senator Clinton's debt," Obama said.

Obama will meet with Hillary Clinton and some of her top donors tonight at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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