Hugely popular among Democratic primary voters, former President Bill Clinton is an invaluable asset for his wife on the campaign trail. But lately he's had a habit of making comments that seem off-key with Hillary Clinton's campaign message.
Yesterday's example: In Muscatine, Iowa, he said he's been against the war in Iraq "from the beginning." But what is the definition of "the beginning?"
Clinton was speaking about the need for fiscal responsibility. "That'll require people like me, who got five tax cuts that I should not have gotten, in my income group, when we had soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers."
First of all, did he really want to remind people of who was on which side in the lead-up to the war? One of Hillary Clinton's biggest problems as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination is that she voted in 2002 to authorize President Bush's use of force in Iraq.
Second, in early 2003, the former president made numerous comments in favor of giving the United Nations weapons inspectors time do their job. But he also had supportive things to say about President Bush's handling of the issue. "I think he's doing the right thing right now," Clinton told Larry King on CNN in early February.
A few days later, Katie Couric asked him if the US should wait for a second resolution authorizing force from the UN Security Council.
His answer: "I don't think the president needs another Security Council resolution as a matter of international law. I think politically if he could get it, it would be great for the simple reason that, if we have to go without another UN resolution -- if we have to go and European powers or Russia or China are vocally opposed to this, then there will always be the suggestion that this was, in effect, a preemptive strike."
At that time, Clinton's stance was seen as relatively hawkish. By March 12, however, he became more critical of Bush and called for him to give more time for Saddam Hussein to disarm.
The U.S. attacked Iraq on March 20.