Bill Clinton: Democrats can't be afraid to take on tough issues

Democrats can't be afraid to talk about hot-button issues, including abortion, and should fight back against personal attacks from conservatives if they want to regain power in Washington, former President Bill Clinton said.

"You can't say 'Please don't be mean to me. Please let me win sometimes.' Give me a break here," Clinton said Saturday. "If you don't want to fight for the future and you can't figure out how to beat these people then find something else to do."

Clinton, whose 2004 memoir "My Life" was a best seller, drew roaring applause during his speech from the several hundred people gathered in the Texas House chamber to kick off the 10th annual Texas Book Festival, an event started by first lady Laura Bush when her husband was governor.

The event, which raises money for public libraries, is expected to draw as many as 30,000 people and authors including novelist Salman Rushdie, historian David McCullough and children's author Lemony Snicket.

Clinton attributed Republicans' control of Congress to Democratic candidates' inability or unwillingness to "stand up and be heard" on issues that matter to people. For example, he said, Democrats too often are unwilling to talk about abortion because they're afraid of virulent reactions from anti-abortion groups.

Clinton also criticized political reporters and authors for failing to use reason and common sense in their writing and failing to dig deeply into stories. Instead, he said, reporters let officials get away with saying things that aren't true so stories include comment from both sides.

The former president did not take questions from reporters and did not talk about the possibility that his wife, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for president in 2008.

He also did not address the Friday indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements, other than to say the Republican Party has had "a few bad days here lately", AP reports.

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