As Senator Barack Obama folded his arms and looked on, one of his leading military advisers forcefully defended Mr. Obama's patriotism here Saturday and accused former President Bill Clinton of trying to employ "divisive attacks" to promote his wife's presidential candidacy.
Mr. Clinton, in a speech to voters in North Carolina on Friday, said "it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country."
At a town meeting here Saturday, retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, who is a co-chairman of Mr. Obama's campaign, read the quote from Mr. Clinton. A few members of the audience gasped and hissed at the former president's words.
"Let me say first, we will have such an election this year because both Barack Obama and John McCain are great patriots who love this country and are devoted to it -- so is Hillary Clinton," General McPeak said, speaking over loud applause. "Any suggestion to the contrary is flat wrong."
Mr. Obama, on his first trip to Oregon before the state's primary on May 13, did not address the comments from Mr. Clinton. He stood a few feet away from the retired general as he made his remarks before a crowd of more than 1,500 people in a Medford community center.
Keep reading the New York Times report.
The Clinton campaign has reined in the former president in the past after he made other similarly divisive remarks, including:
Calling Obama's Iraq War claims a "fairy tale":
"Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen," Clinton had said in accusing Obama of distorting his stance on the war.
Telling Charlie Rose that a vote for Obama would be like "rolling the dice":
In a hard-changing interview with Charlie Rose tonight, Bill Clinton said Americans who are prepared to choose someone with less experience, are prepared to "roll the dice" about the future of America. "It's less predictable, isn't it? When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service before he's running?"
"What do you want to do -- whether you think it matters that, I mean, in theory, no experience matters," Clinton said. "In theory, we could find someone who is a gifted television commentators and let them run. They'd have only one year less experience in national politics..."