Political websites are aflutter today after Republicans made hay of a quote from Bill Clinton's rally at Spokane Falls Community College on Monday afternoon.
The Drudge Report picked up a story from Conservative Outfitters, a website that is at once a clothier and conservative-leaning news aggregate website, and CNN reporter Dan Merica filed a story from Seattle that both included a clip of the speech Clinton gave Monday, edited by the Republican National Committee. In that clip, the former president says,
"But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we've finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us - and the seven years before that when we were practicing trickle-down economics and no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash - then you should vote for her."
Republicans quickly posted the video and tied Clinton's remarks to the performance of President Barack Obama. Merica reached out to a Clinton aide, who said the president's remarks referred to "referring to the GOP's obstructionism and not President Obama's legacy." But both chambers of the U.S. Congress were under Democratic control from 2007 until 2011, which would seem to conflict with Clinton's "last eight years" statement.
In fact, Clinton went out of his way multiple times to applaud Obama on specific policies in his Spokane Falls Community College speech before the comment quoted above, which came at the tail end of an address lasting 50 minutes. Clinton also made multiple references to the housing collapse of 2008, and its effect on the economy, before the above statement was made, indicating he may have been referring to that event and its fallout instead of Obama's job performance.
"At the time of the crash, eight years ago, most Americans were living on less than they were the last day I was in office," he said earlier in the speech. "Now, since the crash, 80 percent of the American people have still not gotten a raise. And that's entirely predictable. For 400 years every financial crash takes about 10 years to get over. We've beaten the timetable on the jobs, we're lagging on the incomes."
Clinton then uses phrasing that comes back at the end of the speech, around the time of the snippet posted by the GOP.
"So we can go back and re-litigate the past, and figure out who to point the finger at, or we can look to the future, and figure out how to put everybody in the picture," he said. The "re-litigate the past" phrase appears in the video of the soundbite above.
Clinton praised Obama's economic policies in the speech, though he said his wife would do more to impose financial regulations on Wall Street. In particular, Clinton praised Obama for his support of 2010's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
"If we took, what I think is one of the best things President Obama did is the Dodd-Frank bill, which basically keeps Wall Street from ever wrecking Main Street again. And I don't care what anybody tells you, it's way better than anything we had for the 50 years before," Clinton said. He then pointed out how the bill doesn't go far enough to regulate the actions of millionaires and hedge fund managers.
Clinton criticized the economic issues of the past eight years in his stump speech Monday. But the full speech reveals his indictment was not directed entirely at Obama.
You can listen to the entirety of Clinton's speech here, recorded by Spokesman-Review reporter Nick Deshais. The comment about the "awful legacy of the past eight years" occurs at 43 minutes, 35 seconds. His first statement about the economy occurs at 5 minutes, 55 seconds. His comments on Obama's support of the Dodd-Frank bill occur at 14 minutes.