Bill Clinton: 'I almost want to apologize' for sparring with protesters

Story highlights

  • Bill Clinton stopped short of an apology for his response to Black Lives Matter protesters Thursday

(CNN)Bill Clinton, while campaigning for his wife's presidential bid Friday, addressed a fiery exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters earlier in the week, saying it bothers him when protesters drown him out but added that he "almost" wanted to apologize for his response.

"We see all these rallies interrupted by people that are angry. Now I like and believe in protests. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't 'cause I engaged in some when I was a kid but I never thought I should drown anyone else out," Clinton said at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, referencing the 15-minute exchange he had with protesters in Philadelphia on Thursday.
    "And I confess maybe it's just a sign of old age but It bothers me now when that happens. So I did something yesterday in Philadelphia I almost want to apologize for but I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country."
    "I know those young people yesterday were just trying to get good television, and they did, but that doesn't mean I was most effective in answering it," Clinton said.
    Clinton went on to say that in order to move forward as a country all sides of debate need to listen to both sides.
    On Thursday, protesters shouted that "black youth are not super predators," taking issue with a phrase then-first lady Hillary Clinton used in a 1996 speech about violent crime committed by young people.
    They also heckled Bill Clinton for the 1994 crime bill he signed into law as president that cracked down on gangs but also put more non-violent offenders in prison for longer stays.
    "You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter," the former President told protesters.
    One protester's signs declared, in an apparent reference to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, that "Hillary is a murderer." The protesters repeatedly shouted over Clinton, ignoring his responses and invoking Clinton's ties to Wall Street, as well.