Former President Clinton has decided to stay neutral in the New York Democratic primary where Rep. Charlie Rangel is fighting for reelection, according to a Clinton aide.

Clinton came to Rangel's aid in 2010, when the veteran congressman was fighting the ethics allegations that eventually led to him being censured by the House.

This year, Rangel is in even hotter water, with his district recently redrawn and primary challengers approaching from every direction. State Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D) is racking up local endorsements in a district that is now majority Hispanic, and Democratic activist Joyce Johnson is playing hard to peel African-American votes away from Rangel in his Harlem base.

But it's the challenge from Clyde Williams, a former aide in the Clinton administration who later became the Democratic National Committee's political director, that led to Clinton's decision to stay neutral. Williams has also worked for Clinton's foundation.

"Because he has personal relationships with several of the candidates in the race, he doesn't feel it's appropriate to weigh in on the race," said the Clinton aide.

Williams said it was an honor to work for Clinton and to advise his foundation, and said he would continue to make his case that it is time for the district to move forward and elect someone other than Rangel.

"I also know he and Charlie Rangel have been friends for decades, and so I appreciate and respect his decision to remain neutral in this race," Williams said in a statement. "Should I be blessed with the opportunity to be the Democratic nominee, I look forward to having President Clinton's support."

Rangel's district leans heavily Democratic. The winner of the primary is expected to easily win the general election in November.