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Hillary to Bill: Knock it off on Bosnia

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  • President Clinton on Bosnia flap: Media acted as if Hillary "robbed a bank"
  • Clinton: "A lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me
  • Controversy surrounded Hillary Clinton's sniper fire claim from 1996 Bosnia trip
  • Campaign spokesman: She "appreciates her husband standing up for her"
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By Alexander Mooney
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton wants her husband to quit talking about her trip to Bosnia in 1996, the former president said Friday.

"Hillary called me and said, "I misstated it, you said I misstated it, but you got to let me handle it because you don't remember it, either.' ... I said, 'Yes, ma'am,' " Bill Clinton said in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The comments follow those he made in Boonville, Indiana, on Thursday, when he strongly defended his wife over the recent coverage surrounding her 1996 Bosnia trip claims, saying the media acted as if she'd "robbed a bank."

"I got tickled the other day, a lot of the way this whole campaign has been covered has amused me, but there was a lot of fulminating because Hillary, one time late at night when she was exhausted, misstated and immediately apologized for it, what happened to her in Bosnia in 1995. Did y'all see all that? Oh, they blew it up," the former president said at a campaign event.

"You would have thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this," he added. "And some of them, when they're 60, they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too."

On March 26, Hillary Clinton said she "misspoke" during a foreign policy address March 17 when she gave a dramatic description of her arrival in Bosnia 12 years ago, recounting a landing under sniper fire.

She said that 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 first lady, calmly walking from the rear ramp of a U.S. Air Force plane with her daughter, Chelsea, then 16, at her side.

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 later said she "misspoke" about the trip and attributed the exaggerations to exhaustion. Video Watch Hillary Clinton joke about the Bosnia controversy »

"I have been in the public eye for many, many years, and this is something that I think happens to anybody," Clinton also said of the exaggeration, which served to raise questions anew about her candor.

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.

But speaking Thursday, Bill Clinton said his wife was justified in characterizing the landing as dangerous.

"Let me just tell you, the president of Bosnia and Gen. Wesley Clark -- who was there making peace where we'd lost three peacekeepers who had to ride on a dangerous mountain road because it was too dangerous to go the regular, safe way -- both defended her because they pointed out that when her plane landed in Bosnia, she had to go up to the bulletproof part of the plane, in the front," the former President added Thursday.

"Everybody else had to put their flak jackets underneath the seat in case they got shot at. And everywhere they went, they were covered by Apache helicopters. So they just abbreviated the arrival ceremony."

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Responding to the former president's comments, Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said, "Sen. Clinton appreciates her husband standing up for her, but this was her mistake, and she takes responsibility for it."

When asked to comment on Bill Clinton's claim about his wife's Bosnia trip, Sen.Barack Obama, appearing at an event in Indianapolis, Indiana, said only, "I will let the Clintons explain Bosnia." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

All About Bill ClintonBosnia and HerzegovinaHillary Clinton

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