Bill Clinton appeared on WHYY radio (an NPR affiliate), in which he defended comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson right before the South Carolina contest
Here’s the transcript: INTERVIEWER (RE: Jackson comment): “Do you think that was a mistake, and would you do that again?"
CLINTON: "No. I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it along. Jesse Jackson -- I said, if you go back to what I said … First of all, there was a conversation that I engaged in that included two African America members of Congress, who were standing right there, who were having the conversation with me. And I said that Jesse Jackson had won a good campaign with overwhelming African American support and white supporters. And this was started off because people didn’t wanna -- they wanted to act like, for reasons I didn’t understand, that Senator Obama didn’t have this African American support, or they thought his white support was better because Jesse Jackson had blue-collar working people, and most of Senator Obama’s support were upscale, cultural liberals. So it was like beneath them to be compared to Jesse Jackson.
"I respect Jesse Jackson. He’s a friend of mine, even though he endorsed Senator Obama. One of his sons and his wife endorsed Hillary. Their whole family’s divided. But his campaign in 1988 was a seminal campaign in American history. It was the first campaign to ever to openly involve gays. Hillary’s chief delegate counter, Harold Ickes, worked his heart out for Jesse Jackson. I frankly thought the way Obama campaign reacted was disrespectful to Jesse Jackson. And I called him and asked him if he found anything offensive, and he just laughed and he said, ‘Of course I don’t. We all know what’s going on.’”
"I mean this is just, you know… You gotta go something to play the race card on me -- my office is in Harlem. And Harlem voted for Hillary, by the way. And I have 1.4 million people around the world, mostly people of color in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and elsewhere, on the world’s least expensive AIDS drugs. I appointed more African American, Hispanic and women judges and U.S. Attorneys than all previous presidents put together and had nine African American Cabinet members.
"I was stating a fact. And it is still a fact. You know, I was amazed that we got almost 20% of the African American vote in South Carolina, and I think it was because we had so many local officials who believed in Hillary and stuck their necks out for her, some of which were threatened with their jobs. But I can see that this used against me, but this was a conversation that occurred early in the morning. We didn’t even know what the vote was gonna be at the time. We were all sitting around drinking coffee. We’d just been to breakfast. 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 gotta go something to try to portray me as a racist."