Hillary on Bill: 'This Is My Campaign'

Bill Clinton has recently toned down his rhetoric on the campaign trail.

ByABC News
January 30, 2008, 3:57 PM

Jan. 30, 2008 — -- Reporters covering Bill Clinton have noticed a much more subdued tone coming from the former president in recent days.

Gone is the Clinton on display in South Carolina, who went on the attack against his wife's chief Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Gone, too, are the lengthy freewheeling discussions with voters, the constant references to his White House record, and the flashes of temper directed at the news media.

The Clinton campaign appears to be trying to keep the former president tightly on message while he campaigns across the country for his wife, in the lead up to the crucial Feb. 5 multistate contests.

Yesterday, he only spoke for 31 minutes, barely mentioning himself, and today, he seemed to do his best to focus on his wife's candidacy.

They're also keeping him as far away from the press as possible. So far away, in fact, some reporters covering the ex-president are having trouble hearing what he's saying to supporters as he shakes hands along the rope line.

That's led some to speculate that Clinton, who was acting as his wife's chief attack dog has been muzzled.

ABC NEWS asked Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., if she personally asked her husband to "tone it down" a little in recent days, and she didn't deny it.

"Well, I'm very proud of his promoting my candidacy, and I'm very happy that he is able to travel as widely as he has been, along with my daughter," Clinton told reporters while campaigning in Little Rock, Ark.

"But this is my campaign, it is about my candidacy," she said.

Clinton said she is trying to keep her campaign message focused on her record and her policy platform.

"I want to keep it focused on what I offer to the country," Clinton said. "The very specific ideas that I have put forth, my record of experience, the proven change that I have brought to bear from Arkansas to New York."

In an interview with Cynthia McFadden for ABC NEWS' "Nightline," tonight, Clinton apologized for her husband's recent controversial remarks.

"I think whatever he said, which was certainly never intended to cause any kind of offense to anyone. ... If it did give offenses, then I take responsibility, and I'm sorry about that."

McFadden asked, "Can you control him?"

"Oh, of course," Clinton replied.

Those close to the Clintons argue it was the media that distorted and hyped Bill Clinton's comments about Obama. But insiders acknowledge there was a conscious decision to pull Bill Clinton back.

"There is a decision by him that he's gotta focus more on her record and her experience, and less about what she may have done with him in the White House," said a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton's, who asked not to be named.