From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
FRANKFORT, Kent. -- Kicking off his first visit to the Bluegrass state, Bill Clinton said the primary contest should focus on issues, not "ya-ya-ing," referring in passing to an Obama supporter's claim that he engaged in McCarthyism last week.
Clinton was talking to the crowd at the Frankfort Convention Center about energy independence, when he stopped mid-thought.
"This is really what this election oughta be about, these kind of things, not a lot of this ya-ya-ing I hear about all the time," he said.
That line drew some applause, prompting the former president to reflect a moment. He then decided then to share one of his "Clinton's law of politics." "The level of sanctimony in the rhetoric is inversely related to the public benefit of the policy," he said, chuckling before adding: "I need to quit this. Somebody will probably figure out how to ... accuse me of being Joe McCarthy again on that."
It was a passing reference, really. He then continued on to describe how cars could run on lithium batteries to get 100 miles per gallon. But it was the first public acknowledgement of the flap over his remarks in North Carolina last week that some viewed as an unspoken swipe at Obama's patriotism.
The speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Jody Richards, introduced Clinton. The former president thanked the more than 2,000 on hand, which included students from the area and state employees, for supporting him in the 1992 and 1996 contests.
"We're not done yet; you bet we're not," he said, in response to a comment from the crowd that the race was not over.
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Ben Weltman adds this interesting Bill Clinton nugget on Iraq: "Because of they think we are going to stay 100 years, they'll never make these hard decisions. Ninety nine years from now our great great grandkids will be talking about 'Oh I wish they had figured out how to split that oil money.' Do you make hard decisions before you have to? No.
"Think about your nextdoor neighbors. Your nextdoor neighbors house burned down. And your nextdoor neighbor had no place to go. Virtually 100 percent of the people here would take you in. You know you would. And if you had no guest bedroom it would make a flip to you, they could sleep on the couch. You would let them do it. Thirty days. You'd let them stay. Most of you would let them stay 60 days. Because that is who we are. But let me ask you something. If your neighbor is still on your couch after five years,[laughter from crowd] what do you know? What do you know? It is not about the fire anymore. It's about not having to get off the couch, that's where we are in Iraq. It is not about the fire anymore. And we have to get off the couch."