Bill Clinton has gotten better at going off-script during his wife’s presidential campaign, but the former President went rogue at recent appearances, taking a dig at Bernie Sanders and calling Obamacare “crazy.”
During Bill’s speech at Ohio State University in Athens, Ohio, an attendee shouted at Clinton for passing the 1994 crime bill during his presidency. The bill set up drug sentencing guidelines that targeted African American populations disproportionately and led to a huge increase of incarceration for minorities.
After hearing the comment, Clinton responded antagonistically by dragging Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a one-time Hillary rival turned ally, into the conversation. According to the Columbus Dispatch, “Hillary didn’t vote for the ’94 crime bill, even though Senator Sanders did,” Clinton said addressing the heckler. “Neither one of them were trying to send millions of your people to prison because there were fewer than 10 percent of our entire prison population are in the federal prison system,” he added.
Hillary Clinton needs Bernie Sanders and his supporters to swing the millennial vote in her favor. Since Hillary was nominated to be the Democratic presidential candidate, she and Sanders have made numerous appearances together in an attempt to convey party unity. The Vermont Senator is currently trying to persuade people to vote for Hillary instead of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a third party option that some of Sander’s fans support in the election.
While Bill Clinton’s Sanders slight may be forgivable, his dig on Obamacare wasn’t so easy to forget. While speaking in Flint, Michigan the former President stated, “So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.”
This is bad for the Clinton camp because Hillary has repeatedly praised Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, although she has acknowledged that she would improve the imperfect system. Obamacare is one of the most contentious subjects for the Republicans to latch onto, so Bill’s departure from party solidarity is ill-timed and tactless considering Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are stumping for Hillary at the same time as Bill.
It’s easy for the Republican party to use Clinton’s comments against him. On Tuesday, Bill gave the Grand Old Party what they’ve been saying for years, except now it directly contrasts with his wife’s own policy. During a presidential race this heated, mudslinging is expected, but Bill Clinton has been on the campaign trail long enough, both for his own presidential race and his wife’s, to know better than to fly off the cuff like he did on Tuesday.
Politico reports Hillary tried to do damage control on Tuesday at a press conference in Pennsylvania but kept her comments about her husband’s Obamacare gaffe brief and to the point. “I think he made it clear what he was saying. With respect to the Affordable Care Act, I’ve been saying that we need to fix what’s broken and keep what works,” Clinton said.
The Clinton campaign is currently trying to spin the comments as misunderstood, but this isn’t the first time Bill Clinton has gone off message on the campaign trail. However, Clinton spokesperson Angel Urena offered an explanation in an e-mail to Politico, “President Clinton spoke about the importance of the Affordable Care Act and the good it has done to expand coverage for millions of Americans. And while he was slightly short-handed, it’s clear to everyone, including President Obama, that improvements are needed.”
Former President Clinton has come off as long-winded and self-aggrandizing at past Hillary events, but he’s been able to reign it in as election day draws near. The outlook is unclear if this slip will affect the Clinton campaign in the future, but no noticeable change has happened yet.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Pool/AP Images]