Presidential races

Bill Clinton accuses GOP, media of stoking email controversy

President Bill Clinton dismissed the controversy surrounding his wife Hillary Clinton’s private email server as a meaningless distraction, comparing it to his administration’s “Whitewater” controversy.

“This is just something that has been a regular feature of all our presidential campaigns, except 2008, for unique reasons,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that will air Sunday.

“I’d rather it happen now than later. It was already going to happen—the other party doesn’t want to run against her and if they do they want her as mangled up as possible. They know if they leak things and say things that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about [issues].

{mosads}President Clinton mentioned the Whitewater scandal as another example of “something nobody thought was an issue… that turned out to never be an issue.”

“I’ve never seen so much expended on so little,” he said, praising how his wife has responded to the controversy. He blamed her decline in favorability in part on the unwillingness of reporters to cover her policies.

“It’s obvious what happened—at the beginning of the year she was the most admired person in public life and she earned it. Why? Because she was being covered by people who reported on what she was doing: the new START [arms] treaty, the Iran sanctions,” he said.

“The nature of the coverage shifted from issue based to political.”

Clinton added that politics is a “contact sport” so he can’t complain. But when asked whether he thought that there was a Republican plot against his wife, he said the efforts against his wife were clearly apparent.

“A plot makes it sound like it is secret,” he said.

“I think there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons and they thought the only way to make it a race is a full-scale, frontal assault on her. This email thing became the biggest story in the world.”

Hillary Clinton has seen her poll numbers slide since she entered the presidential race in April. Her national lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has dropped and there are rumors that vice President Joe Biden might jump into the fray.

Sanders also has chipped Clinton’s lead to near single digits in Iowa and he leads in New Hampshire, according to recent polling.

Many point to the email controversy as a major reason for Clinton’s decline in polls.

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