April 11th, 2008
11:37 AM ET
15 years ago

Bill Clinton says media overreacted to Bosnia flap

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/11/art.billclinton.ap.jpg caption="Bill Clinton is defending his wife's Bosnia claims."](CNN) - Bill Clinton strongly defended his wife Thursday over the recent coverage surrounding her 1996 Bosnia trip claims, saying the media acted as if she'd "robbed a bank."

"I got tickled the other day, a lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me, but there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up," the former president said at a campaign event in Boonville, Indiana Thursday afternoon.

"You would have thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this," he added. "And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too."

Controversy surrounded Clinton after video footage showed she did not land "under sniper fire" during her 1996 trip to Bosnia, despite making that claim on several occasions - most recently during a mid-morning address on March 17. Clinton later said she "misspoke" about the trip, and attributed the exaggerations to exhaustion.

"I have been in the public eye for many, many years, and this is something that I think happens to anybody," Clinton also said if the exaggeration which served to raise questions anew about her candor.

But speaking Thursday, Bill Clinton said his wife was justified in characterizing the landing as dangerous.

"Let me just tell you, the president of Bosnia and General Wesley Clark - who was there making peace where we'd lost three peacekeepers who had to ride on a dangerous mountain road because it was too dangerous to go the regular, safe way - both defended her because they pointed out that when her plane landed in Bosnia, she had to go up to the bulletproof part of the plane, in the front," the former President added Thursday.

"Everybody else had to put their flak jackets underneath the seat in case they got shot at. And everywhere they went they were covered by Apache helicopters. So they just abbreviated the arrival ceremony. "

Responding to the former president's comments, Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said, "Senator Clinton appreciates her husband standing up for her, but this was her mistake and she takes responsibility for it."

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. Snafu

    It would be a "misspeak" if she said it once but she said 3 or 4 more times. Billary Clan needs to go away. They are a bunch of pathetic Jerry Springer wannabe. They lie and lie and then lie when they get caught in a lie. And you people want these dysfunctional imorons in the WH? Wow says alot about America! You mean there is no one else in this whole country beside BUSH/CLINTON/BUSH/CLINTON? Wow, you folks are truly misguided. Turn the tables and drop this bimbo and he pimp husband.

    April 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Its True

    "And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too."

    You mean forget it over and over again. I believe it was four times. Do we want a president with memory lapse? Is former president Clinton suggesting that his wife is too old to be President? Nice try.

    April 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. From PA

    obama is the devil in disguise

    April 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Maria Pesantez

    To the "Obama supporter". It is really a dilemma for us the voters since we suspect that Mr. Obama will also be exhausted at 11.00 pm tired of hearing his own "fantastic speaches" and figuring out what exactly he meant by "change" and how he will achieve it? Plus ( I know I am bias) but there is a bigger probability that a mom/women will be exhausted but yet alert to answer the phone even at 3am if it is needed....

    April 11, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. David

    Mr. Clinton,

    Would you like to correct your mis-statement? You see your wife told the same story on multiple occasions ... not just once when she "was tired".

    April 11, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. DeniseGa

    Politico pointed out on a republican blog, the lies Bill told while defending the lie, Hillary told:

    (1) Her most glaringly wrong telling of the tale, on March 17, 2008, was in the morning.
    (2) She actually told versions of the story several times. (And none was at night.)
    (3) In an e-mail to journalist Eric Jansson, former acting Bosnian president Ejup Ganic said "we didn't expect snipers," though, "we still believed that some positions on the hills were occupied by radical Serbs, so I was worried about the overall safety."
    (4) Not according to the pilot Colonel William "Goose" Changose (Ret.), who said, "nobody under my watch has ever directed anyone to sit on their flak jackets. ... We do not direct people to sit on their flak jackets."
    (5) It wasn't immediate at all - it was 11 days later, first in an editorial board meeting with the Philadelphia Inquirer/Philadelphia Daily News, then later in a press availability.
    (6) She never apologized.
    (7) It was 1996, not 1995.
    (8) He qualified it with "I think," but then-first lady Pat Nixon went to a combat zone in Saigon, Vietnam, in July 1969.

    April 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. richj

    You Obamanuts are REALLY disrespectful people. How can you expect to have a united party with the filth spewed from your computers. Your disrespect ONLY sevrves to strenghten our resolve to support Hillary AND Bill to make sure the most qualified person and a lover of this nation and it's people gets to the white house.
    I know most of the venom in these blogs are coming from immature thugs(i.e. college students) that LIVING ON MOMMY AND DADDY'S DIME and have no clue what the real world is like and less of a clue how to solve them. For them this is "American Idol". For the rest of us that have to pay bills, it's deadly serious and it's going to take serious person to solve them not an "American Idol".
    Besides , looking at the rhetoric on these blogs(cnn-Obamas network) and the hate that is in them one would think that your candidates campaign is one of hate rather than change. We've had enough of hate for the last eight years.

    April 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Steve from Austin, TX

    Guess she must have been tired on all three days she spoke about the event. I would like to know what incident she confused it with because nobody would forget sniper fire. This is related to her campaign since integrity is a pretty important characteristic of a president.

    Chelsea stood by her mother’s comment even though she knew it was not true. I guess they are teaching her the Clinton way of manufacturing the truth. This sense of entitlement is nauseating.

    Let’s all Chill Out as Bill suggested. We’ll let the other states vote, Obama will win all categories and we’ll see what Hillary has up her sleeve to rip the party apart.

    It scares me to think I started this primary season supporting Hillary. No one is above the truth.


    April 11, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. hk in Cleveland

    I believe Bill and I'm sure most Americans do. He's the most successful President we ever had – wthout question he is the greatest.

    April 11, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Mike - WA

    Mentally-ill Bill is at it again. Aren't the Clintons wonderful! I think we can live without them in the White House.

    April 11, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Pam

    Let's all admit it! Bill Clinton is just excellent at the old style politics, unfortunately, what he and his wife don't understand is that is exactly what the voters DO NOT want.

    As a people, we must not look to race OR gender when voting. We desparately need to restore our credability in the world and we cannot do that with the "old style" of politics.

    It is just that simple!!

    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Xavier of Saint Louis, MO

    Oh please! He's lying for Hillary just like Chelsea lied for her. And, his statement here is also a lie. . . . Lying must be a Clinton thing.

    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Rand Sether

    It is no suprise that Bill thinks lying is no big deal.......he is good at it.

    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Angry Pennsylvania Voter

    I'm sorry, I just overreacted. Why would I care that a politician running for President lied to my face, right?

    Totally get what Bill is saying here. Politicians just have the right to lie right to our faces. After all, were just the people. Why do we matter?

    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Jared

    Overreaction? I guess anytime a Clinton gets caught in a lie or a crime, it's an "overreaction". She's running for the highest office in the land – does Bill think that we should all be so jaded with politicians that we accept flat-out lying as alright? He's getting as delusional as his wife.

    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Paul

    Good Job President Clinton


    Who is free from sin in America THAT ALLOWS THEM to judge other people?


    April 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Lynda West Chester, PA

    He is lying when he says that she said it only one time. how can anyone support team Clinton. They just keep lying. i know he wasn't officially speaking for the campaign, but please.

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Alexei

    oh not this again! hey Bill, as we say in my native country, za molchi, you're not doing either Billary or you any favors

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Jim

    When your wife and your daughter flat out LIE SEVERAL TIMES, what else can you do but shrug it off? Everyone sees right through all three of you Bill.

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. GJ

    The problem with Bill's explanation is Hilary had repeated the "story" a few times before she finally got caught.

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Madalynn

    Yes I will be laughing at all of you all the way to the bread line when Obama gets elected. Half of the population wil be looking back and saying I told you so. His lack of experience is apparent. 1 year? Sorry that does not cut it. We need experience-not someone who worships a man that bashes the United states. Not someone whose wife "finally" appreciates our United States. Open your eyes people.

    Hilary, go ahead and be tired, you are human!

    GO HILARY 2008!!!

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. LT

    I did not vote for Mr. Clinton in '92 or '96 because he was/is a liar. I will not vote for Mrs. Clinton in '08 because she is a liar. I am from a southern state and it was common knowledge in the 90's that the Clintons were liars. It was common knowledge that the Clintons were sleazy, shady-dealing, win-at-all-cost politicians. Nothing has changed. I will never ever vote for them. Ever.

    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. wilfred

    Bill what a piece of work you are .
    Liar , cheater and big mouth.
    Hillary has learned well from you.


    April 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. True Independent, MD

    If she tells a lie at 11p.m. because she is tired, what will be her reaction at 3 a.m. when she has to answer the phone?

    I really would like someone to intelligently articulate my why i should vote for Sen Clinton?
    And please, don't mention 'experience'. Not unless you would rather see my cousin's wife, instead of her husband who is a surgeon, because you think the wife has 'experience' vis-a-vis her husband.

    April 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Garrett from MD

    I also find it incredibly hard to believe... it's not an exaggeration or a misstatement when you invent a story about snipers and stuff like that. It's delusion. Go anybody but Hillary.

    April 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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