Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair accused Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders of “airbrushing history” by criticizing the 1994 crime bill, legislation enacted by former President Bill Clinton, who engaged in a heated exchange with protesters over its impact on the African-American community last week.
Sanders called on the former president to apologize after the incident, which took place earlier this week at a Clinton campaign event in Philadelphia. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta shot back at Sanders on Sunday, citing that the senator voted in favor of the bill.
"In 2006, he campaigned for the Senate saying, 'I’m tough on crime.' What was his evidence? I voted for the '94 crime bill,” Podesta said on ABC’s "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." "I think he’s airbrushing history."
The protesters who confronted President Clinton this week were holding signs that read, “Black youth are not super predators,” referring to Hillary Clinton’s use of the term to describe gang members in a 1996 speech. Clinton reacted by defending his wife’s choice of words.
"I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack, sent them out onto the street to murder other African-American children,” he said to the protesters. "Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn’t.”
"You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter,” he continued. “Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns.”
Following the exchange, Sanders said President Clinton should apologize to the protesters -- something he reiterated during his own interview Sunday on “This Week.”
“I think we all knew back then what that language meant,” Sanders said. "That was referring to young blacks, and I don't think in this country elected officials or leaders should be using that type of terminology.”
Bill Clinton has not apologized, but addressed the confrontation at a campaign event the following day.
“I did something yesterday in Philadelphia. I almost want to apologize for it,” he said. “I want to use it as an example of the danger threatening our country because the founders set this country up so that we could keep growing and being bigger and including more people.”
When pressed on whether President Clinton should apologize, Podesta added, "I think the president got a little hot, but I think that the charges are misled. I think what the president has done is said there were unintended consequences of the crime bill, that he regrets that, that we need to move on, we need criminal justice reform.”