WASHINGTON Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants to set the record straight on Donald Trump: "We were not friends."
"We knew each other, obviously, in New York," Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York, said in excerpts of a People magazine interview released on Wednesday. "I knew a lot of people."
Trump, the real estate billionaire whose standing as Republican front-runner was dented by a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, had long touted his friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. In a March 2012 Fox News interview, Trump praised Clinton as a "terrific woman."
"I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard," Trump told Fox.
But the Clintons, who attended Trump's 2005 wedding, were fair game on the campaign trail.
In November, Trump said Hillary Clinton did not have strength or stamina to be president and called her the worst U.S. secretary of state, a post she held from 2009 to 2013.
When Clinton denounced Trump last month for showing "a penchant for sexism," Trump turned the phrase against her, using it to refer to Bill Clinton's sexual scandals as president.
Trump's caustic comments about Hispanics, women, Muslims and his rivals for the nomination have set much of the tone for the Republican race.
Clinton has accused him of being divisive and a bully.
Clinton told People she could handle Trump's barbs, but worried about the immigrants and American Muslims he targets.
"I'm more concerned about the tone that is being set in the political debate this year because the last thing our country needs right now is more divisiveness, more mean-spiritedness," she said.
It was not clear when the People interview, which included Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, was conducted. Clinton won the Iowa Democratic caucuses over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday.
"I really care about what he says about other people, who don't have the voice and the platform," Clinton said, referring to immigrants and American Muslims.
Chelsea Clinton said she has never had a relationship with Donald Trump but remains friends with his daughter, Ivanka.
"I do believe that friendship is more important than politics," she told People. "I would never hold anyone accountable for what their parents or anyone else in their family said or did."
(Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott)
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