(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that he regrets some of his controversial primary season comments, telling an interview that he is “not a racist.”
Clinton addressed some of the frenzy over his comments about his wife Hillary Clinton’s Democratic rival, presumptive party nominee Barack Obama, following the Illinois senator’s win in January’s South Carolina primary.
The former president, who appeared to grow agitated at times during one of his first interviews since his wife ended her active campaign for the presidential nomination in June, was asked by in the ABC interview if he was at least partly to blame for the New York senator’s loss, and if he personally had any regrets.
"Yes, but not the ones you think. And it would be counterproductive for me to talk about," said Clinton, adding that "there are things that I wish I'd urged her to do. Things I wish I'd said. Things I wish I hadn't said.
"But I am not a racist," he continued. "I've never made a racist comment and I never attacked him [Obama] personally."
Clinton’s comparison of Obama’s South Carolina victory to those of former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson drew resentment from some in the African-American community and an apology from Hillary Clinton.
In an April interview, the former president himself said his words had been deliberately distorted by the Obama campaign. “We were talking about South Carolina political history and this was used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama campaign to try to breed resentment elsewhere. And you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really got to go some to try to portray me as a racist.”
He added that the way Obama’s campaign had reacted was “disrespectful to Jesse Jackson” that the former presidential candidate had told him he was not offended, and that “we all know what’s going on."