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Clinton says she 'misspoke' about sniper fire

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton has told of dangerous arrival in Bosnia in 1996 under sniper fire
  • Video footage of arrival shows Clinton and daughter walking calmly from plane
  • Clinton recounted story in effort to show her foreign policy experience
  • Obama campaign says Clinton has "exaggerated her role" in foreign policy
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(CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton said she "misspoke" last week when she gave a dramatic description of her arrival in Bosnia 12 years ago, recounting a landing under sniper fire.

Clinton was responding to a question Monday from the Philadelphia Daily News' editorial board about video footage of the event that contradicted her assertion that her group "ran with our heads down" from the plane to avoid sniper fire at the Tuzla Air Base.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for rival Sen. Barack Obama's campaign, said the Bosnia claim was part of "a growing list of instances in which Sen. Clinton has exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policymaking."

Clinton told the paper's editorial board it was a "minor blip." Video Watch how Clinton described her trip »

"I say a lot of things -- millions of words a day -- so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement," she said.

In a radio interview that aired Tuesday, Clinton said she wasn't worried about the incident hurting her credibility.

"I have been in the public eye for many, many years, and this is something that I think happens to anybody," she told radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In a foreign policy speech last week at George Washington University, Clinton used the description of a dangerous arrival to bolster her argument that she has the foreign policy experience needed to be commander in chief.

She said when she arrived in Bosnia on March 25, 1996, "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

But news video footage of her arrival at Tuzla shows Clinton, then the first lady, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side. Both Clintons held their heads up and did not appear rushed.

The video shows Clinton spending several minutes talking with the group, including an 8-year-old Bosnian girl who presented her with a poem, and later greeting U.S. troops.

Clinton has mentioned the sniper fire at least twice earlier in the campaign, including in December in Dubuque, Iowa, before the caucuses in that state.

Clinton's campaign has made foreign policy experience a centerpiece of her effort to come back against Obama, whom she is trailing in delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Video Watch a report on the Bosnia story and other political news »

During Monday's editorial meeting -- in which Clinton was seeking the Daily News' endorsement ahead of Pennsylvania's April 22 primary -- she was asked about the apparent discrepancy. The newspaper reported her response:

"Now let me tell you what I can remember, OK -- because what I was told was that we had to land a certain way and move quickly because of the threat of sniper fire. So I misspoke -- I didn't say that in my book or other times but if I said something that made it seem as though there was actual fire -- that's not what I was told," she told the newspaper.

"I was told we had to land a certain way, we had to have our bulletproof stuff on because of the threat of sniper fire. I was also told that the greeting ceremony had been moved away from the tarmac but that there was this 8-year-old girl and, I can't, I can't rush by her, I've got to at least greet her -- so I greeted her, I took her stuff and then I left. Now that's my memory of it."

Meanwhile, as Clinton backpedaled from the description of her Bosnia trip, the senator from New York was keeping her focus on the economy with a town hall-style meeting Tuesday in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Clinton also pushed back against recent speculation by pundits and Democratic insiders that her chances of securing the nomination are quickly diminishing.

"I know there are some in Washington, and some in the media, who want this race to be over," she said to a loud chorus of boos.

"There are some who think we don't need to hear the voices of people in Pennsylvania or Indiana or North Carolina or Montana or any of the other states that haven't had their chance to vote. Well, I disagree."

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, focused on the economy and the housing situation Tuesday, participating in a roundtable discussion in Santa Ana, California.

McCain blamed "rampant" speculation and "complacent" lenders for the mortgage crisis.

Vowing not to "play election-year politics," he called for more transparency in lending and higher capital reserves for lenders.

Obama had no public events scheduled Tuesday. The senator from Illinois was wrapping up a brief vacation to the U.S. Virgin Islands.


He resumes campaigning Wednesday, with stops scheduled in North Carolina.

He said he planned to spend a lot of time talking about the economy when he returns. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Alan Duke, Steve Brusk and Mike Roselli contributed to this report.

All About Hillary ClintonBarack ObamaBosnia and Herzegovina

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