Former president Bill Clinton declined to call tax inversions "unpatriotic" on Tuesday, shying away from a term that President Obama has used repeatedly against companies that take advantage of the maneuver.
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, Clinton was asked to weigh in on the offshore tax deals that Democrats have been attacking ahead of the midterm elections.
"Are corporate inversions unpatriotic?" asked CNBC's Becky Quick.
"Well, whether it is or not, companies — particularly those that are answering to shareholders — have a short-term perspective. A lot of these companies feel duty-bound to pay the lowest taxes they can pay," Clinton responded.
"We have to come to terms with the fact that everyone else in the world has stopped taxing on the difference between what their companies earn in a different country and at home," Clinton said.