Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged Tuesday that she had erred when she claimed that she had arrived under sniper fire in Bosnia, but insisted the mistake did not reflect poorly on her ability to serve as commander-in-chief.
Speaking at a wide-ranging televised news conference from Pennsylvania where she was campaigning for the Democratic presidential primary on April 22, Clinton said her comments about the sniper fire were an error.
“So I made a mistake, that happens,” she said when the question was raised again. “It proves I’m human – which for some people is a revelation.”
In campaign appearances, Clinton has cited her experience as first lady as one of her qualifications to be president and as one of the areas that distinguishes her from Sen. Barack Obama. She has cited her efforts to help in a variety of global hot spots including Ireland and Bosnia, which she visited in March 1996.
“I remember landing under sniper fire,” Clinton recalled during a speech last week in Washington, reading from prepared remarks. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”
Her recollection has come under verbal fire with newspapers publishing pictures of her peacefully greeting schoolchildren. The cable television networks have repeatedly run video of her calmly walking from the helicopter, accompanied by soldiers and her daughter, Chelsea, to greet the children.
“You know, I made a mistake in describing it,” said Clinton, adding that the Secret Service and the military had warned her to take precautions.
“I did make a mistake in talking about it the last time and recently,” she said. “But this is really about what policy experience we have and who is ready to be commander in chief and I am happy to put my experience up against Sen. Obama’s any day.”
The Obama campaign has claimed Clinton’s misstatement is part of a pattern by the New York senator to inflate her credentials.