Responding to a chorus of outrage touched off by her comments about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) made a bold attempt at damage control today by distancing herself from herself.

Many political observers had assumed Sen. Clinton would respond in some manner to the controversy she had created with her comments, but few expected her to throw herself under the bus. At a rally today in South Dakota, the New York senator said that the comments she made were “totally unacceptable,” adding, “I hereby reject and denounce myself.”

Attempting to reassure her dwindling base of support, she said that her comments “have no place in a political campaign, and the person who made them will have no role in my administration.”

Sen. Clinton also offered an explanation for her comments about the late Sen. Kennedy, telling the crowd, “I am still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of my service in the Bosnian army.”

While early reaction to her latest comments was mixed, Clinton aide Terry McAuliffe called the speech “a home run.”

“She came out today and said she was disgusted and appalled by Hillary Clinton,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “That puts her in the mainstream of American opinion.”

Sen. Clinton’s decision to throw herself under the bus also drew praise from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who joined in rejecting and denouncing her. “When I heard her comments about Bobby Kennedy, I thought, wow, somebody in her campaign said something idiotic and this time it wasn’t me,” he said.

Elsewhere, American Airlines announced that it would charge customers $15 for the first lost bag.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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