Bill Clinton took a jab at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday in an attempt to deflect a heckler’s criticism over a 1994 crime bill that the former president signed into law.
“Hillary didn’t vote for the ’94 crime bill, even though Senator Sanders did,” Clinton told the heckler, who interrupted the former president’s campaign speech at Ohio University.
“Neither one of them were trying to send millions of your people to prison because there were fewer than 10 percent of our entire prison population are in the federal prison system,” he added. Sanders was in the House of Representatives when he voted for the bill.
Bill Clinton’s Sanders slight comes as the Clinton campaign is trying to woo the democratic socialist’s supporters, many of whom have expressed frustration at the establishment-backed Clintons. It also follows the release over the weekend of an audio recording from February in which Hillary Clinton critiqued Sanders’ backers as too idealistic.
The former first lady has been criticized heavily for her and her husband’s tough-on-crime stance during their White House days. Critics have pointed to her remarks in support of the bill in which she used the controversial term “superpredators.”
“We’re making some progress,” Clinton said during a speech in 1996. “Much of it is related to the initiative called ‘community policing.’ Because we have finally gotten more police officers on the street. That was one of the goals that the president had when he pushed the crime bill that was passed in 1994.”
“But we also have to have an organized effort against gangs,” she continued.
“Just as in a previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators — no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.”
Clinton has since apologized for those remarks.
The slam on Sanders is Bill Clinton’s second campaign stumble in as many days. He caused a stir on Monday when, during a speech in Michigan, he called Obamacare a “crazy system” that “doesn’t make any sense.”