Days after praising Republican frontrunner Donald Trump as a “master brander” who could very well win the GOP primary, former President Bill Clinton clarified those compliments on Tuesday while firing back against Trump’s assertion that Hillary Clinton was “perhaps the worst secretary of state in history.”
“Well, the thing about branding is, you don’t have to be — you can be fact-free,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday. “You can’t and you shouldn’t be able to insult your way to the White House.”
The former president touted his wife’s efforts to impose sanctions on Iran as a precursor to the recent Iran nuclear deal.
“Even the Republicans admit that the sanctions on Iran were well done,” Bill Clinton said. “And that was a major achievement, to get Russia and China to agree to sign off on these sanctions and enforce them. She did that. That’s what made the talks possible, so even the people who don’t like the Iran deal like the sanctions.”
He also noted Hillary’s work on the New START treaty with Russia and her efforts to expand the number of beneficiaries of George W. Bush’s anti-AIDS program — PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) — from 1.7 million people to 5.1 million.
“These are all facts, so they’re not common to the diatribe here,” Bill Clinton said. “When she left office, the average approval rating of the United States was more than 20 points higher than it was when she came into office. I don’t think that’s nothing.”
The former president also pointed out that Trump invited Hillary to his 2005 wedding.
“He asked her to come to his wedding when he found out [we were] going to be in Florida,” Bill Clinton said. “And I don’t know how many times he told me what a wonderful job she did for New York as a senator after 9/11.”
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last week, Bill Clinton complimented Trump’s ability to set himself apart in a crowded Republican field.
“Being able to put a personal stamp on it so people identify who you are certainly counts for something, at least in the beginning,” Clinton said. “He’s got a lot of pizzazz and zip, he’s branded himself in a clear way, and he’s generated some excitement.”