Clintons clash over Puerto Ricans

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The Independent Online
IN A POLITICAL screw-up that speaks volumes about the perils of running for political office from inside the White House, Hillary Clinton denounced an offer of clemency extended by her husband, President Bill Clinton, to members of a violent terrorist group in Puerto Rico.

Mrs Clinton argued this weekend that the offer, made on 12 August, should be withdrawn at once because the 16 members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation had failed to accept the only condition - that they renounce violence.

"It's been three weeks and their silence speaks volumes," she said. "I believe the offer of clemency should be withdrawn". Mrs Clinton, who is preparing to run for a United states Senate seat in New York Sext year, made her position public just hours after the White House set Friday as the deadline for the imprisoned men to respond.

The extraordinary stand-off between husband and wife is heavy with irony. Most observers believe that the President decided to make the clemency offer to boost his wife's popularity in New York City's Puerto Rican constituency.

But the offer attracted heavy political fire, not just from Republicans but from many Democrats too. Whatever assistance it might have afforded Mrs Clinton in New York was outweighed by political grief in Washington.

Officials around Mrs Clinton have been adamant that she had nothing to do with the President's original decision and that she supported it so long as the condition of a pledge of non-violence was met.