Former President Bill Clinton clashed with protesters on the campaign trail Thursday, when a relatively small Philadelphia crowd put him on the defensive about his 1994 crime bill after repeated interruptions.
At one point, video of the talk appears to show a protester’s sign catch Clinton’s attention, which made him launch into a heated lecture about race.
“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and send them out in the street to murder other African-American children,” he told the protesters. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens, she didn’t. She didn’t.”
“You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter,” Clinton went on. “Tell the truth.”
MSNBC’s Kate Snow played a clip of Clinton’s remarks for Kristina Schake, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, on Thursday afternoon.
“Protests happen a lot of times. He handled it well,” Schake said. “Talking about the crime bill, both the President and Hillary have spoken before about the unintended consequences that came out of that. She has been a lifelong advocate for helping reform the criminal justice system and she has a real plan to do that as president.”
It’s not the first time Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been confronted about the legacy of her husband’s tough-on-crime policies.
In an infamous 1996 speech advocating for the 1994 crime bill, she warned violent criminals “are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often kinds of kids that are called ‘superpredators.’” When confronted about those comments in February, she said that in retrospect, she “shouldn’t have used those words” and wouldn’t today.
Bill Clinton has also admitted the crime bill made the mass incarceration problem worse.
Watch a clip of Bill Clinton’s remarks via Fox 10 Phoenix:
And the full speech via the Washington Free Beacon:
This post has been updated.