04/19/2015 11:12 am ET Updated Apr 19, 2015

Terry McAuliffe Defends Hillary Clinton's 'Dead Broke' Comment

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Sunday defended Hillary Clinton's claim that she faced serious economic hardship when she left the White House in 2001.

"I don't want to spend too much time going back to the late '90s and 2000, but I was with them, I was a personal friend, I've been friends with them since 1980," McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally who chaired her 2008 presidential campaign, said during an interview on "Meet the Press."

"I cannot tell you the distress in that family at that time, with all the issues, all the legal fees, banks refusing to even give them a mortgage. So listen, people go through tough financial times," he said.

While McAuliffe acknowledged that Clinton is well-off today, he noted that she had come from a middle-class family. McAuliffe added that the fact that Hillary's mother had been abandoned as a child motivated the former secretary of state to fight for families.

Clinton faced heavy criticism last summer after she said that she and former President Bill Clinton were "dead broke" and in debt when they left the White House.

PolitiFact, which rated Clinton's claim "mostly false," reported that the couple was able to secure a $1.995 million loan in December 2000 to buy a home. By 2004, PolitiFact reported, Clinton was ranked the 10th wealthiest member of the United States Senate.

Clinton has since said that the comment was accurate, but that she regretted saying it.

McAuliffe's remarks came after Clinton launched her presidential campaign by meeting with small groups of Iowa residents. She has highlighted income inequality as an issue that she would like to address during her White House run.



Hillary Clinton