From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
BOONVILLE, Ind. -- After a series of brief rallies in Puerto Rico early this week and some down time for fundraisers in recent days, Bill Clinton returned to the campaign trail here today and seemingly had a lot to get off his chest.
During a 45-minute speech in a stuffy high school gym, the former president addressed his wife's case to be the nominee even without a delegate lead, his eye-popping tax figures, and, curiously, the flap over his wife's recollection of her Bosnia trip as first lady, a story that seemed to have faded away. He even tweaked Obama more strongly than usual, as he mocked a new campaign ad.
In chronological order, I bring you Bill in his own words:
ON WIFE'S CASE TO BE NOMINEE: "I am so glad to be here. And I'm glad that Indiana is gonna have a say in who the nominee of the Democratic party is and the next president of the united states. You know the next election is in Pennsylvania. It is a hard-fought race, and as has been the case in Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island, where Hillary won great victories, she is being badly outspent, but she's gonna win again.
"And then we're gonna come to Indiana and ask you to give her a chance to go on. If you do that, she'll win big victories in West Virginia and Kentucky, she will win the popular vote, she will go to the convention with the best claim having won the largest number of electoral votes, having won an enormous percentage – two-thirds at least -- of the electoral votes that I was able to get in 1996. She will have the best claim to be the nominee of the party for president. You can do that. Indiana can do that. ...
"I think it's worth just a moment to take a little walk down memory lane to look at the future. This country was founded by people who were running away from abusive, unaccountable government power that forgot about the needs of the people. Our Constitution was set up to make sure that we all lived under the same set of rules. And one of the things that has always made me proud to be a member of my political party is that we believe that's the way everything should operate. Whatever the rules are, we'll suit up and play, but we should all be under the same set of rules."
ON HIS FINANCES: "Now, because we went back to big deficits, every single day of the year we have to borrow money to cover millionaire's tax cuts. [Pauses] And I love saying this, because my family was the poorest family to move into the White House in 100 years. So I left the White House and made a lot of money. And the other day we released our tax returns. And I got criticized. I think the Wall Street Journal, they said, 'That guy must be hiding something. He paid 50 percent more taxes than most people with that kind of money do.'
"So they asked me, I said, I told the accountant, 'Resolve that in favor of the government. I don't think the millionaires should get tax cuts when we had soldiers in the field and middle-class people needed help, and we had education and health needs.' "
ON BOSNIA FLAP: "And, you know. I got tickled the other day. A lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me. But there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up.
"Let me just tell you. The president of Bosnia and General Wesley Clark -- who was there making peace where we'd lost three peacekeepers who had to ride on a dangerous mountain road because it was too dangerous to go the regular, safe way -- both defended her because they pointed out that when her plane landed in Bosnia, she had to go up to the bulletproof part of the plane, in the front. Everybody else had to put their flak jackets underneath the seat in case they got shot at. And everywhere they went they were covered by Apache helicopters. So they just abbreviated the arrival ceremony.
"Now I say that because, what really has mattered is that even then she was interested in our troops. And I think she was the first first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt to go into a combat zone. And you woulda thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this. And some of them when they're 60 they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too.
"But I say this because you need to know this. Hillary is not only on the armed Services Committee, but when she was in the White House, she asked to be our point person to make sure that Vietnam veterans exposed to the hazards of Agent Orange were taken care of…."
ON OBAMA AD: "And you just can't be carried away by some of these things. I saw -- y'all seen this television ad on, where Hillary's opponent says I don't take money from oil companies? You seen that? Well, that's a good thing, but guess what? No living person who's ever run for office has done that. It's been illegal to take political contributions from oil companies for 100 years. It's almost like saying, you know, 'Vote for me, I brush my teeth every morning.' Or, 'Vote for me, I never robbed a bank.' Or, you know. I say that, because this is not about advertisements. This is about real life. This is a great country with limitless possibilities and profound challenges. And the young people of this country deserve the best president. That's the issue. The best president."