Sen. Hillary Clinton acknowledged yesterday that she had erred when she claimed that she had arrived under sniper fire in Bosnia but insisted the mistake did not reflect poorly on her ability to serve as commander in chief.
Speaking at a wide-ranging televised news conference from Pennsylvania, where she was campaigning for the Democratic presidential primary on April 22, Clinton said her comments about the sniper fire were an error.
"So I made a mistake, that happens," she said when the question was raised again. "It proves I'm human - which for some people is a revelation."
In campaign appearances, the New York senator has cited her experience as first lady as one of her qualifications to be president and as one of the areas that distinguishes her from Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. She has cited her efforts to help in a variety of global hot spots, including Ireland and Bosnia, which she visited in March 1996.
"I remember landing under sniper fire," she said in a speech last week in Washington, reading from prepared remarks. "There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."
Her recollection has come under verbal fire with newspapers publishing pictures of her peacefully greeting schoolchildren. The cable television networks have repeatedly run video of her calmly walking from a helicopter, accompanied by soldiers and daughter Chelsea to greet the children.
"You know, I made a mistake in describing it," said Clinton, adding that the Secret Service and the military had warned her to take precautions.
"I did make a mistake in talking about it the last time and recently," she said. "But this is really about what policy experience we have and who is ready to be commander in chief, and I am happy to put my experience up against Senator Obama's any day."
The Obama campaign has claimed Clinton's misstatement is part of a pattern by Clinton to inflate her credentials. But she insisted there was no such pattern.
"I just disagree with that. I made a mistake, and I had a different memory," she insisted.
Yesterday, Obama's campaign posted his tax returns on its Web site, a move designed to pressure Clinton to release her financial information.
The campaigns have sparred over tax and financial information before. For the Obama campaign, the issue is part of its effort to portray Clinton as hiding key information or in some cases exaggerating it.
Obama's tax returns from 2000 to 2006 were posted yesterday. Much of the information had been previously released to news organizations.
For the tax years of 2005 and 2006, Obama and his wife, Michelle, jointly reported about $2.6 million in total income, according to the returns. Most of the income came from Barack Obama's success as an author.
Clinton has said she will release her post-White House tax documents in mid-April.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, is likely to release his tax returns the week of April 15, according to his campaign.
Michael Muskal writes for the Los Angeles Times.