WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she refused an Obama campaign request in 2008 to attack Sarah Palin, the new Republican vice-presidential candidate on the ticket with Sen. John McCain.
"The Obama campaign did contact me and asked me if I would attack her," Clinton told NBC in an interview that aired Tuesday. "I said, 'Attack her for what, for being a woman? Attack her for being on a ticket that's ... trying to draw attention?'"
Clinton said she told the campaign, "There'll be plenty of time to do what I think you should do in politics, which is draw distinctions."
The former secretary of state is weighing another run for the White House in 2016. Clinton on Tuesday was releasing her new memoir, "Hard Choices."
On Monday, Palin tweeted a page from Clinton's new book, "Hard Choices," that contained Clinton's description of the episode. In it, Clinton says that the Obama campaign suspected Palin's nomination "was a blatant attempt to scuttle their hope of welcoming the women who had vigorously supported me" in Clinton's own unsuccessful presidential campaign.
"They immediately issued a dismissive statement and reached out to me in hopes I would follow suit," Clinton writes. "But I wouldn't. I was not going to attack Palin just for being a woman appealing for support from other women. I didn't think that made political sense and it didn't feel right. So I said no, telling them there'd be plenty of time for criticism. A few hours later the Obama campaign reversed itself and congratulated Governor Palin."
That page prompted Palin, the former Alaska governor, on Monday to tweet: "Look who fired the 1st shot in the real "war on women". Hint: it wasn't the GOP. See this excerpt from Hillary's book." GOP is shorthand for the Republicans.
Obama's campaign reacted to the Palin pick in August 2008 with a statement arguing the Alaska governor was too inexperienced to be vice-president. "John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in that statement.
Barack Obama quickly distanced himself from the statement, telling reporters later in the day that it was a "hair-trigger" response that did not reflect his sentiments. Obama said he felt Palin was "a compelling person" and her selection was a hit against the glass ceiling that limits women's advancement.
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