WASHINGTON (CNN) - White House spokeswoman Dana Perino briefly waded into the presidential campaign on Wednesday, denying a suggestion by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, that the Bush administration may be slowing down the release of more than 11,000 pages of documents related to her time as first lady.
Perino said the Bush administration has previously moved fast to release roughly 550,000 pages of documents from the Clinton administration. She said in this case the White House is waiting for a representative for former President Clinton, Bruce Lindsey, to approve the release of the new documents and then formally ask the Bush administration to do so.
"And if the Clinton representative approves the release of the records, we act as quickly as practical to get them out," Perino said, when a reporter asked about the controversy at the White House daily briefing. "And as I said, we don't have anything pending at the moment."
During a debate with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, on Tuesday night, a journalist pressed Clinton on whether she will make sure the documents are released during the primary season to give voters a clearer view of her experience as first lady. "I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can," said Clinton. "Now, also, President Bush claims the right to look at anything that is released, and I would urge the Bush White House to move as quickly as possible."
Clinton spokesman Jay Carson told CNN the senator was not trying to cast any blame on the president. "All she did was note President Bush is part of the process, not that he's in any way holding this up," said Carson. "He's not [delaying this], and she's not either."
Carson said the latest batch of documents, which consist of her schedules during eight years as first lady, were cleared by the National Archives on Jan. 31. That triggered a 45-day period for Lindsey to review the documents for any sensitive material before he has to give the White House a recommendation on whether or not to release the papers.
"We still have 17 of those 45 days," said Carson. "We expect to approve and release those documents, but we're in the process of doing all that now."
Pressed on whether the Clinton camp is dragging out the process so that voters will not see the documents before next Tuesday's key primaries in Ohio and Texas, Carson insisted they are moving as quickly as possible. "It's eleven thousand papges of documents being reviewed by one person who has a day job," he said of Lindsey.
- CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry