NEW YORK: Former President Bill Clinton defended both the transparency of the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising and his wife’s email use on Monday morning.
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting, the 42nd president told Q&A moderator Becky Quick of CNBC that the organization’s openness about its donations exceeds that of other groups. Its donors and fundraising processes have come under attack from Republicans as his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, makes her second bid for the White House.
"Even our critics will say we’re much more transparent than similar organizations," Clinton said, noting that the group accepts donations from people across the political spectrum. "I’m proud of what we do; I’m grateful for it."
He also stuck up for his wife, whose poll numbers have taken a hit amid a stream of reports about her use of a private email server during her tenure running the State Department. Hillary Clinton’s lead over other Democratic candidates has shrunk in recent months, according to various polls. However, she has a double-digit lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as long as Vice President Joe Biden does not enter the race, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this morning.
The former president said Republicans are using the same playbook they did against him while he was in the White House, commenting, "It really is similar to the strategy they employed against me with Whitewater."
"I’m glad it happened in 2015 rather than 2016, and I think it will burn itself out," he said. "They are sending a clear signal, ‘We do not want to run against this woman; give us someone else.’"
Amid reports that Biden is considering mounting another bid for the presidency, Clinton called the vice president "a good man," adding, "He’s been a friend of me and Hillary for a long time."
On the topic of reducing income inequality – also a focus of the panel discussion that directly preceded Clinton’s appearance – the former president noted the importance of universal access to broadband Internet. He added that the US should take lessons from other developed countries, such as South Korea, on how to boost high-speed access to the Web.