Bill should have been an actor. Or at least get some Midol; I’m sure those cramps are killing him. Check out what Bill is so upset about.
At last, Bill Clinton could not help himself.
He paced the stage during a speech on Tuesday in North Carolina, holding his microphone close. He raised his left index finger. And at once, the meandering address turned sharply, and without prompting, to his charitable foundation, a magnet for criticism in recent weeks.
“We live in a Snapchat-Twitter world,” Mr. Clinton lamented, tilting his head theatrically — a septuagenarian embracing his age, decades after reveling in saxophone cool.
“It’s so much easier,” he said, “just to discredit people and call them names.”
For Mr. Clinton and his extended circle, this election has at times felt like a campaign devised to discredit the former president and call him names.
And after more than a year of uncharacteristic restraint — a notable shift from eight years ago, when his simmering instincts often burdened Hillary Clinton’s first presidential run — Mr. Clinton seems to have had enough.
“Did I solve every problem? No,” he told a crowd on Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. “Did I get caught trying? You bet.”
In the Democratic primary race, he mostly held his tongue as Senator Bernie Sanders disavowed his administration’s approach to trade, criminal justice, gay rights and the deregulation of Wall Street, in part because Mrs. Clinton had been compelled to second-guess much of his record herself.
Yet if the primary race doubled as a re-litigation of Mr. Clinton’s policies, which his advisers believe history will judge kindly, the general election has touched a different nerve, taking a black light to Mr. Clinton’s post-presidential legacy.
“His reputation has suffered some since he left the presidency,” said David Gergen, a senior adviser to several presidents, including Mr. Clinton. “There’s no desire on the part of Bill Clinton and his followers to make him the center of the campaign. They want to make Hillary the center of the campaign. So he’s had to take some things. He’s had to fight with one hand tied behind his back.”
Friends of Mr. Clinton’s say he has grown impervious to most criticisms, particularly swipes at his personal indiscretions, which could proliferate in the weeks before the election. Donald J. Trump has made winking allusions to Mr. Clinton’s infidelities and other controversies from the 1990s.
But the focus on the Clinton Foundation, which has come under escalating scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest and foreign donations, has rankled him far more, according to those close to the former president, because of his deep personal investment in the foundation’s charitable work over the past 15 years.
In a series of swing-state appearances this week, Mr. Clinton unleashed an impassioned self-defense, by turns sarcastic and almost pleading.
“All we’ve done is save lives,” he told voters on Monday in Detroit.
“I got tickled the other day when Mr. Trump called my foundation a criminal enterprise,” he said on Tuesday in Durham, N.C., noting that Mr. Trump had paid a fine for making a political donation using funds from his own foundation.
“If creating jobs and saving lives is bad,” Mr. Clinton said in Orlando the next day, “I guess you can zing me with it.”
Moments later, he wondered aloud how much money Mr. Trump had spent to help the people of Haiti.
Angel Urena, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, said that the foundation’s mission and those who rely on it “have been President Clinton’s life” since he left office.
“So when someone who doesn’t know the first thing about philanthropy tries to bring the Clinton Foundation into his political sideshow,” Mr. Urena said of Mr. Trump, “President Clinton is going to stand up for it.”