Clinton criticizes former Obama pastor on O'Reilly

April 30, 2008 3:20:14 PM PDT
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she found remarks by Barack Obama's former pastor to be "offensive and outrageous" and noted that her Democratic rival had spoken out forcefully against them. "I think that he made his views clear, finally, that he disagreed. And I think that's what he had to do," Clinton said in an interview with Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly. The network released excerpts of the taped interview ahead of its airing Wednesday night.

It was the former first lady's first appearance on the O'Reilly show, the most popular Fox News program and a staple of conservative media. Over the years, O'Reilly has been a staunch critic of both the New York senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Campaign aides said her appearance on the Fox News show was designed to reach out to working-class, independent white men who could decide the outcome of next week's Indiana primary.

Last week Clinton accepted the endorsement of another frequent critic, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife. The billionaire had funded several investigations that helped lead to Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998.

Obama on Tuesday dissociated himself with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of 20 years, after Wright made inflammatory comments to reporters in Washington. Among other things, Wright praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and said the American government may have developed the AIDS virus to infect the black community.

"I sure don't believe the United States government was behind AIDS," Clinton told O'Reilly.

Clinton defended her husband's White House years during the 15-minute interview.

"In the '90s, we had one of the strongest, fairest economies we've ever had," she said. "Yes, did people like you and me pay a little bit more? We sure did. But so did everybody else benefit, because middle class taxes stayed pretty even."

She added: "People are net losers under the Bush economy. They were net winners under the Clinton economy. We're going to bring back a good, positive economy for the vast majority of Americans."

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