NEW YORK — Former President Bill Clinton says his comment about Barack Obama telling a "fairy tale" about opposing the war in Iraq has been misconstrued as a criticism of the senator's run for the Democratic nomination.
"There's nothing 'fairy tale' about his campaign. It's real, it's strong, and he might win," Clinton said in a phone interview for the Rev. Al Sharpton's Radio One network talk show.
Clinton said his "fairy tale" remark on the eve of the New Hampshire primary _ won by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton _ was only intended to describe Obama's claim to have exercised better judgment about the war, not as a sign of "personal disrespect."
The former president, speaking Monday at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., had accused Obama of misrepresenting himself on the Iraq war. Clinton suggested that while Obama had spoken out against the war in 2002 while he was an Illinois state senator, Obama had moderated his anti-war stance during his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.
Clinton complained that journalists beguiled by Obama's charisma had failed to question his claim to have been the only Democratic presidential candidate consistently opposed to the war.
"It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war," Clinton said during the rally.
"There's no difference in your voting record, and Hillary's, ever since," Clinton said. "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."
Clinton said black voters had a hard choice between the rival senators.
"If you decide to vote for Senator Obama, I respect you, because it is a source of enormous pride in the African-American community, and it should be. He is an impressive man," Clinton said.
However, Clinton said black voters should support his wife because of her policies and record in the Senate.
"I would argue that she is better for your life and your future, and right now, we have to pick the person who is most ready to be president," he said.