Former President Clinton, quoting scripture from a church pulpit, sought to frame the 2004 election in moral terms on Sunday and said President Bush’s Christianity doesn’t keep him from seeing things “through a glass darkly.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Bush’s re-election “would be a disaster.”
A day before the Republicans opened their convention, the Clintons spent the day reminding the GOP that New York City is still a Democratic town.
Before joining her husband at church, Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., made the rounds of TV talk shows. When asked if she agreed with Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign, she said, “I’m hoping the entire administration is fired on Nov. 2.”
Her husband, the former president, speaking at Riverside Church in upper Manhattan, said, “Politics and political involvement dictated by faith is not the exclusive province of the right wing.”
The Democrats, Clinton argued, need to show their policies are also rooted in faith. “The religious right has tried to turn us all, in disagreeing with them, into two-dimensional cartoons,” he said.
Speaking of Bush’s religious beliefs, he said, “I believe President Bush is a good Christian. I believe that his faith in Jesus saved him. I believe it gave him new purpose and direction to his life.
“But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t see through a glass darkly,” Clinton said, quoting a biblical phrase for not seeing clearly.
“It doesn’t mean that you can have a bunch of people acting on your behalf and pretending like you don’t know them, to say that the seven people who were on John Kerry’s Swift boat don’t know what they’re talking about when they say he deserves the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts,” Clinton said.
The Bush campaign has said it had nothing to do with TV ads questioning Kerry’s war record. A campaign spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment on Clinton’s remarks.
Sen. Clinton, speaking in TV interviews rather than in church, framed her criticism of the Republican president in more conventional political terms.
“Whether we’re talking about important domestic issues or critical life-and-death issues abroad, this president may be consistent, I’ll give him that, but he’s been consistently wrong. And he’s put our country on the wrong track.”
That quote was from her appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” but she made an almost identical comment on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
A recent poll found that a majority of people believe Republicans have stronger ties to organized religion. Some 52 percent of those surveyed viewed Republicans as “generally friendly to religion,” while 40 percent viewed the Democrats as religion friendly.