You think Bill Clinton is still holding a grudge?
Bill Clinton: Obama Got Lots of Help on Economic Crisis Response
Barack Obama cultivated the image of a cool and collected leader during the height of the economic crisis last month, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill scrambled to draft a workable bailout package after a meltdown on Wall Street.
And when John McCain suspended his campaign to dive head first into the fray, Obama's campaign accused the Republican of being "unsteady."
But to hear Bill Clinton tell it, the Democratic nominee didn't quite have a handle on the situation himself.
"I haven't cleared this with him and he may even be mad at me for saying this so close to the election, but I know what else he said to his economic advisers (during the crisis)," Clinton told the crowd at a Wednesday night rally with Obama in Florida. "He said, 'Tell me what the right thing to do is. What's the right thing for America? Don't tell me what's popular. You tell me what's right -- I'll figure out how to sell it.'"
Clinton said when the crisis broke, Obama called his own advisers as well as those of the former two-term president, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffet and others.
"He called those people. You know why? Because he knew it was complicated and before he said anything he wanted to understand," Clinton said. "That's what a president does in a crisis."
The seeming praise may come off as a backhanded compliment, especially since Obama repeatedly accuses McCain of admitting he doesn't know much about the economy. McCain's campaign said Clinton's remark shows Obama was uncertain when Wall Street seemed to be on the verge of crumbling.
"Barack Obama had no idea what the right thing to do is or at least that's Bill Clinton's impression," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said.
"It's disturbing that ... Barack Obama's response to this is 'Tell me what to do and I will sell it,'" Goldfarb added. "That's been Barack Obama's entire campaign -- is one big sales job."
During the height of negotiations in late September, McCain briefly suspended his campaign to work on the economic bailout package and even threatened to sit out the first presidential debate.
Obama teased him for it, and after a mid-week summit with President Bush, congressional leaders and the presidential candidates ended in disarray, his Democratic supporters criticized McCain for "injecting" presidential politics into the debate.
Before the inter-campaign sniping began, the two presidential nominees released a joint statement urging the nation to "rise above politics for the good of the country."
Goldfarb said he can't speculate on the content of the advice Obama solicited in late September but that, "The result was to sit back and do nothing."
Former Hillary Clinton adviser Maria Cardona said Clinton was genuinely trying to pay Obama a compliment Wednesday night, especially after so much was made in the press of the divisions between Obama and Clinton supporters.
"President Clinton was trying to make the point that their campaigns are actually talking to one another quite a bit," she told FOX News. "The point that President Clinton was trying to make is that Senator Obama understands this is a big issue, and he is surrounding himself with people who have that experience."
Bill Clinton has come out forcefully in favor of Obama ever since the Democratic National Convention in late August in Denver.
He declared Wednesday night that, "This man should be our president."
However, he sometimes has had a strange way of showing his support. Clinton has repeatedly praised McCain in interviews, and even described Sarah Palin at one point as an "effective candidate with a compelling story" who cannot be underestimated.
Clinton also said in Florida Wednesday night that Obama has proved himself by running a campaign that "involves so many people," adding: "He has executed this campaign in a way that is different from modern and forward thinking -- something no one else ever could have done. He can be the chief executor of good intentions as president."
It's not clear what he meant, since he pronounced the word 'executer.'
Asked about Clinton's intentions Wednesday, Goldfarb said: "I think ... he clearly chooses his language carefully."
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