Barack Obama cultivated the image of a cool and collected leader during the height of the economic crisis last month, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill scrambled to draft a workable bailout package after a meltdown on Wall Street. And when John McCain suspended his campaign to dive head first into the fray, Obama's campaign accused the Republican of being "unsteady."But to hear Bill Clinton tell it, the Democratic nominee didn't quite have a handle on the situation himself.
"I haven't cleared this with him and he may even be mad at me for saying this so close to the election, but I know what else he said to his economic advisers (during the crisis)," Clinton told the crowd at a Wednesday night rally with Obama in Florida. "He said, 'Tell me what the right thing to do is. What's the right thing for America? Don't tell me what's popular. You tell me what's right -- I'll figure out how to sell it.'" Clinton said when the crisis broke, Obama called his own advisers as well as those of the former two-term president, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffet and others. "He called those people. You know why? Because he knew it was complicated and before he said anything he wanted to understand," Clinton said."That's what a president does in a crisis."
The seeming praise may come off as a backhanded compliment, especially since Obama repeatedly accuses McCain of admitting he doesn't know much about the economy. McCain's campaign said Clinton's remark shows Obama was uncertain when Wall Street seemed to be on the verge of crumbling. "Barack Obama had no idea what the right thing to do is or at least that's Bill Clinton's impression," McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said.
"It's disturbing that ... Barack Obama's response to this is 'Tell me what to do and I will sell it,'" Goldfarb added. "That's been Barack Obama's entire campaign -- is one big sales job."