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President Clinton on the Clinton Who Would Be President

GLENWOOD, Iowa--Stumping for his wife in this tiny western Iowa town, former President Clinton declared at the start the crowd would have to "forgive him" because "I'm kind of out of this politics business" and "it's not a political speech, but here's what I think."

He then gave a 40 speech that was very much political and good enough that an already pro-Hillary crowd rallied even more behind both Clintons.

On his first solo campaign swing in Iowa for his wife, he was speaking at the first of two stops in this area, following four days his wife has spent in the eastern part of the state.

As the Post's Anne Kornblut reported recently, the ex-president is just as likely to talk about his own projects than his wife's campaign, and in the first 18 minutes of his address today he barely mentioned the Clinton currently running for office. Instead, he essentially gave his own stump speech, outlining the work of his foundation and the major problems he sees in the world, such as global warming.

Then, he moved on to his wife. He called her the "best qualified non-incumbent" in his lifetime for the oval office and said "even if we had not been married, if she had asked me to come, I would do it in a heartbeat."

Clinton actually got more applause in the second half of his address when he largely echoed themes from his wife's stump speech, laying out issues like No Child Left Behind. He punctuated each section of the speech with "she gets that" or "she's being doing this for a long time."

He encouraged people to "look at the person, not the cartoon." Asked several questions afterward, Clinton defended his wife's suggestion that some troops should remain in Iraq. He noted she has been criticized for this, but said those troops could help prevent fighting between the Turks and the Kurds. Asked about whether a "sexist world" would elect a woman, he reeled off a list of countries with female leaders and said "it's hard to believe America is more sexist than Argentina" a comment which left the crowd a bit confused. When Christie Vilsack, the wife of the former governor held a microphone and said "thank you, thank you" as if to cut off Clinton, he insisted on taking one more question. And it was a perfect one for Clinton.

Asked about how his wife could get universal health care through Congress now, given her earlier experience, her husband took the blame for 1993.

"That was far more my fault than hers," Clinton said.

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 8, 2007; 3:00 PM ET
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