Bill Clinton on email scrutiny: ‘I’ve never seen so much expended on so little’

Updated 9:21 AM EDT, Sat September 26, 2015
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Story highlights

"I actually am amazed that she's borne up under it as well as she has," Clinton said

The 42nd president said "we're seeing history repeat itself," citing the Whitewater scandal of the 1990s

(CNN) —  

Bill Clinton said Friday he believes Republicans are exaggerating scandals against his wife, using the scrutiny over her email use while at the State Department to tear her down.

“I think that there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons. And they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her. And so this email thing became the biggest story in the world,” Clinton said to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that will air Sunday on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“I actually am amazed that she’s borne up under it as well as she has. But I have never seen so much expended on so little. … I trust the people. I think it will be all right. But it’s obvious what happened,” Clinton added.

The 42nd president said “we’re seeing history repeat itself,” citing the Whitewater scandal of the 1990s. He also said media coverage of his wife shifted from issues to politics by “people who want a race.”

But, he added, “this is a contact sport. They’re not giving the job away.”

Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination has stumbled as she grapples with questions about her use of a personal email account as secretary of state. Republicans charge that Clinton’s email practices put American national security interests at risk, and Clinton has been forced to share the documents on her private server.

Those negative headlines seem to have taken their toll on Clinton’s presidential ambitions, as wide numbers of Americans say in polls that they do not find her honest and trustworthy. Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders have seized on those weak numbers and captured an anti-Clinton sentiment peeking through the party’s liberal coalition.

Hillary Clinton has so far avoided engaging with Sanders, only saying his name at a public campaign event for the first time earlier this month. But her husband threw some praise on the Vermont senator when contrasting the Democratic field with Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump.

“Hillary and Senator Sanders have laid out pretty detailed, positive policy positions, talking about what they would cost and, you know, you could actually have a debate there,” the former president said.

The same couldn’t be said of Trump, he said. Bill Clinton explained that he thought Trump was trying to provide an economic argument for working class, socially conservative Republicans to believe in the GOP.

“I’ll give you an economic reason to vote for me: I’ll build a wall around the Southern border of America and I’ll stop buying Chinese imports so your incomes will go up,” Clinton said of Trump, referring to the Republican’s prominent policy positions.

But he believes the brash billionaire will be forced to flesh out his policy positions in the coming weeks.

“I’m sure the other future debates will do it,” he said.

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