Hillary Clinton criticized Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Milwaukee of being overly critical of President Obama. But it was the front-runner’s husband, Bill Clinton, who issued the most stinging rebuke of the evening against the 44th president.
Speaking at an event in Memphis Thursday evening, the former president asserted that Obama is not the “change-maker” that Hillary Clinton is.
Here’s how the Memphis-based news outlet The Commercial Appeal characterized Clinton’s remarks:
But in talking about the struggles of middle- and lower-class America, Clinton was met with silence when he said President Barack Obama wasn’t a “change-maker” like Hillary. He clarified a few sentences later that Obama has had accomplishments, including the Affordable Care Act.
“Yeah, it’s rigged,” he said, speaking of the financial system, “because you don’t have a president who’s a change-maker, who has a Congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for.”
Bill Clinton’s not-so-subtle slam of Obama, who ran in 2008 on the motto “Hope and Change,” came while his wife criticized Sanders for having publicly disagreed with the president in the past. She cited an interview Sanders gave in 2011 in which he said that Obama has been “weak” in his dealings with Republicans.
“The kind of criticism we’ve heard from Sen. Sanders about our president, I expect from Republicans,” Clinton said Thursday.
“Madam secretary, that is a low blow,” Sanders responded.
But Bill Clinton’s critique of Obama is not his first. During the 2008 presidential campaign Clinton called Obama’s campaign the “biggest fairy tale” he’d ever seen. He also reportedly made racially insensitive remarks about Obama.
According to the 2010 book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Clinton said of Obama during a conversation with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy: “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”
Bill Clinton has also made subtle digs at Obama during his tenure. In his 2011 book “Back to Work,” Clinton said that Obama’s handling of the 2010 debt ceiling crisis made the U.S. look “weak and confused.”