MUSCATINE, Iowa -- Former President Bill Clinton vouched for his wife's experience as he made a series of campaign appearances in eastern Iowa on Tuesday, telling people she's the most experienced non-incumbent who's run for president in 40 years.
Clinton, while not acknowledging the complaints of his wife's rivals that her claims of experience are overblown, ticked off a litany of problems she's worked on over the years, both in the White House and in Arkansas. "I believe with all my heart she is the best qualified, best-suited person who's a non-incumbent that I've ever had a chance to vote for," he said.
Clinton said that she led an education reform effort in Arkansas. "She did that. She had no office," he said. And he told of her efforts to bring Catholic and Protestant women together in Ireland, and of her declaration in China that women's rights were human rights.
Peppering his remarks with words like "Hillary says," "she believes" and "Hillary's proposed," the ex-president also gave a defense of sorts of his own trade policies, saying the Bush administration hasn't enforced those deals.
Trade agreements, like NAFTA, which Clinton signed, have been criticized in Iowa, largely because of their impact on the state's manufacturing base. Even Sen. Clinton has said there should be a time-out on trade deals.
The former president, though, said the real problem is the provisions of the trade deals aren't being enforced, and that U.S. trading partners are financing this country's debt, making it even more difficult. "When's the last time you slugged your banker," he asked an audience at a fairgrounds building in DeWitt. "You think you could get a loan?"