Former President Bill Clinton forcefully insisted Hillary Clinton is “not out of touch” with the American people — the latest attempt at damage control after the likely 2016 presidential candidate claimed the multimillionaire couple was “dead broke” after leaving the White House and still aren’t “truly well off.”
Clinton spoke with NBC’s David Gregory on Tuesday during a conference in Denver, Colorado. The 42nd president got a little testy with the “Meet the Press” host after he was asked if he “understands” why some are critical of Hillary’s comments on wealth.
“I do, I might understand it differently than you do now,” he interrupted, shifting aggressively in his seat. “Look, you’re in politics. One of the things that’s a challenge for us is that somebody’s always trying to change the subject. And the subject is how can we get this economy going? How can it work?”
“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Clinton asserted. “Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I’m shocked that it’s happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks. And so I’m grateful.”
Gregory was undeterred. “But when you say you pay ordinary taxes, as Secretary Clinton did, unlike other people who are really well off who pay taxes maybe just off capital gains, can you understand as a political matter that that could strike people as being out of touch?” he asked.
“Yes,” Clinton replied, “but she’s not out of touch. “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.”
The former president laid out a ledger of charitable works performed by his wife throughout her life, including “trying to get legal assistance for poor people” and “believing in paid leave for pregnant mothers in the 1970s.”
“I think I had the lowest net worth of any American president in the 20th century when I took office,” Clinton declared. “But I still could have been tone deaf. And, you know . . . now I don’t, and we’ve got a good life, and I’m grateful for it.”
“But I still — we go to our local grocery store on the weekend,” he explained. “We talk to people in our town. We know what’s going on.”
Clinton praised Hillary for helping provide legal assistance to poor people in the 1970s, but she has recently come under renewed attack for her work defending and acquitting a 41-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old in 1975 — a charge she later laughed about, despite admitting he was most likely guilty.
WATCH (video courtesy of NBC):