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Bill clinton tells heckler 911 not inside job

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Bill Clinton fundraises, touts wife in Minneapolis appearance
10/23/2007 10:12:04 PM

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former President Bill Clinton predicted Tuesday that his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is likely to have a more difficult time winning the Democratic presidential nomination than she would the general election.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the primary is tougher than the general," the former president said at a Minneapolis fundraiser for his wife's campaign, arguing that she's more immune to attacks from Republicans because "they don't have anything new to say about her."

Because of the current political climate, Clinton said Democrats are in prime position to reclaim the presidency.

"I think we can run anybody and win if we run a smart campaign," Clinton said. That gives Democrats the opportunity to pick the most qualified candidate for the job, he said, making the pitch that Hillary Clinton is that candidate.

Bill Clinton's evening appearance at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis followed a day of activity in Minnesota. Earlier in the day, he helped dedicate a new center for healthy living at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, then headlined two Minneapolis fundraisers.

Tickets to the first fundraiser went for $1,000 or $2,300, while those for the second event at the State Theater ranged from $25 to $100. The Clinton campaign wouldn't divulge how much was raised, but said they sold all 2,000 tickets for the State Theater event.

Recent polls have shown Hillary Clinton with a healthy lead over her opponents in the Democratic primary. Bill Clinton didn't elaborate on why she's likely to face a tougher fight in the primary, but he noted the strength of the entire Democratic lineup and said Democrats were lucky to have a range of good candidates to choose from.

But in arguing for his wife's candidacy, the former president called her "the most qualified non-incumbent candidate for president" that he's seen in his 40 years as a voter.

Clinton, rattling off as he often does dizzying sets of facts and figures, laid out the challenges likely to be faced by the next president. His rundown had a distinctly global emphasis, as he returned numerous times to the argument that Hillary Clinton is most qualified to undo damage to the U.S. reputation in the world he said has been caused by the Bush administration.

"This is not an experimental deal," Clinton said. "We're not going to get a honeymoon here. She went to 83 countries when I was president."

Clinton's 50-minute speech, which started about an hour behind schedule, was derailed briefly by several hecklers in the audience who shouted that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a fraud. Rather than ignoring them, Clinton seemed to relish a direct confrontation.

"A fraud? No, it wasn't a fraud," Clinton said, as the crowd cheered him on. "I'll be glad to talk to you if you shut up and let me talk."

When another heckler shouted that the attacks were an "inside job," Clinton took even greater umbrage.

"An inside job? How dare you. How dare you. It was not an inside job," Clinton said. "You guys have got to be careful, you're going to give Minnesota a bad reputation."

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