Sen. Hillary Clinton doesn't really want to reduce her reelection campaign to a debate on her looks.But if you must know, the former First Lady thinks she was a cutie in high school.
The odd discussion about her appearance came after her long-shot opponent, Republican John Spencer, suggested to the Daily News that Clinton had undergone "millions of dollars" in plastic surgery, and pointed out she used to be much less attractive.
"You ever see a picture of her back then? Whew," he told Daily News columnist Ben Smith during a plane ride to Rochester last Friday. "I don't know why Bill married her."
"She looks good now," he added.
Asked if she was embarrassed by the story, Clinton laughed yesterday and shot back, "I thought my high school picture was cute," referring to a photo that ran on The News' front page.
She mostly took the story in good humor, even coming back with a very undoctored retort.
"Do you want to check for the scars?" a smiling Clinton asked The News after an upstate campaign stop, pulling her head back in a preening pose.
But she did criticize Spencer's comments as a new low for him.
"I've never seen a campaign where we are now down to false accusations about appearance," Clinton, 58, told reporters outside Schenectady.
Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers, spent much of yesterday denying he used the words "ugly" or "plastic surgery," although The News never quoted him saying those specific words.
He declined to talk directly to The News and instead put out a statement decrying the story as "tabloid journalism at its worst. The Daily News owes Hillary Clinton an apology."
Earlier in the day, Spencer offered an alternate explanation to an Albany radio station, suggesting The News was "on a mission" to derail his campaign - which already trails Clinton by a whopping 37 percentage points.
"I clearly won both debates," Spencer said of his faceoffs against Clinton last weekend in Rochester and Manhattan, "and I think they're a little bit upset about that."
This isn't the first time Spencer has tried to run from his own comments.
Last April, when Spencer's hometown paper chided him for saying that Clinton had taken "moolah from the mullahs" - his way of saying that Clinton had accepted campaign donations from the Iranian-American Political Action Committee - Spencer at first denied making the comment, originally reported by The New York Times.
Two days later, however, Spencer put out a statement conceding that The Times was "correct in their reporting on this issue" - adding he was only repeating a phrase he had read elsewhere.
Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said Clinton has had no plastic surgery or similar work.
"I'm not sure what's worse - that Mr. Spencer made these insulting comments or that instead of owning up and apologizing for them, he is lying about them," Wolfson added. "Either way, it's clear that he is unfit for the U.S. Senate."
More evidence that the hatred of Hillary is rooted in deep-seated sexism.