Watch Bill Clinton reflect on the lessons he's learned on the campaign trail. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - Bill Clinton says he's learned his lesson.
Speaking with a Maine television station Thursday night, the former president said the fallout from his comments ahead of the South Carolina primary last month proved he should only promote his wife’s presidential candidacy, not defend her.
"Everything I have said has been factually accurate, but I think the mistake I made was to think I was a spouse just like any other spouse who could defend his candidate," Bill Clinton told Portland television station WCSH. "I think I can promote Hillary but not defend her because I was president." (Watch Bill Clinton's comments)
"I have to let her defend herself or let someone else defend her," he continued. "But a lot of things that were said were factually inaccurate. I did not ever criticize Sen. Obama in South Carolina. I never criticized him personally."
Clinton faced criticism over his seemingly aggressive campaigning in South Carolina ahead of that state's crucial primary last month, with charges from some that he had made racially insensitive and divisive comments. Several prominent African-American leaders took aim at his remarks, most notably House Majority Whip James Clyburn - the South Carolina Democrat who has remained neutral in the presidential race but told CNN the former president needed to "chill."
Exit polls taken on primary night seemed to indicate Bill Clinton's remarks may have turned off some voters. Obama easily won the primary, and captured nearly 80 percent of the African-American vote - a group that had originally supported her candidacy.
Since South Carolina, the former president has kept a lower profile on the campaign trail, strictly sticking to his talking points and rarely mentioning Obama by name. He's currently on a swing through Maine and Louisiana - two states which are set to vote this weekend.
"I think whenever I defend her, I risk being misquoted, and I risk being the story," Clinton also said in Thursday’s interview. "I don't want to be the story. This is her campaign, her presidency and her decisions. And so even if I win the an argument with another candidate, its not the right thing to do. "I need to promote her but not defend her."
"I learned a very valuable lesson from all that dustup."
- CNN Producer Alexander Mooney