June 14th, 2015
11:19 AM ET

Bill Clinton on SOTU: "She’d [Hillary] be a very good president and she’s proven out to be a pretty good candidate. I’m proud of that."

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, former President, Bill Clinton, joined chief Washington correspondent and anchor, Jake Tapper.

Text highlights and a full transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Clinton on there being no evidence of donors who gave to the Clinton Foundation receiving anything:  “Nobody even suggested it or talked about it or thought about it until the political season began. Somebody said, well what about this? Nobody’s asked me for anything or any of that. …She, you know, she was pretty busy those years. And I don’t, I never saw her study a list of my contributors, and I had no idea who was doing business before the state department. ”

Clinton on polls saying that Hillary isn’t trustworthy: “…we’re used to it. And the only thing I would say about this is number one, I’m glad it’s happening now because I trust the American people and I trust her with my life and have on more than one occasion. I think that anybody- the more people who find out about her- anybody who still really close to their best friend from grade schools is by definition trustworthy. … There’s been a lot of discussion in this period about disclosure. Everybody wants disclosure. I think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. … I literally, A- I know her.  B- I know the truth. And C- I trust the American people. And it’s not happening 15 hours before the election. So I feel good about it. Free speech in politics. I think when people go to personal attacks this far before the election that means they’re scared of you. And they should be. She’d be a very good president and she’s proven out to be a pretty good candidate. I’m proud of that.”

Clinton on his comment about trusting Hillary with his life: “I don’t mean I was facing physical death. Although, I might have been when I had my heart trouble. Even when we were going together, I just relied on her, I don’t know if you had this but I had some tough years in my late 20s when you’re starting out in life you’re plagued by self-doubt. I was always rushing around cause my father died before I was born. And she was always, whenever I had trouble she was a rock in our family. … we built a life together based on the things we cared about and the things we loved and we were blessed with a daughter that turned out pretty well, I’d say. And we’ve been very blessed. …another thing is, it’s different when you’re our age. We’ll be fine. Whatever happens here, and you know, we’re going to come out of life ahead. And she wants to serve, and I want her to have the chance to serve if the majority of the American people agree.”

Clinton on who he considers “powerless” in America today: “We try to get people who have money to people who don’t. And to give it to them in a way that’s empowering so it actually changes their lives. …people who are working as hard as they can who don’t have enough money to support their kids and meet basic human needs. …people who are working as hard as they can who don’t have enough money to support their kids and meet basic human needs. …people who would give anything to go to work, can’t get employment are stuck in part time jobs. …people who can’t work in pockets in America untouched by the recovery. Rural coal countries and eastern part of the country. Native American reservations that don’t have casinos and don’t have enough population density. Many places in the Mississippi gulf and in other parts of the country. I think there a lot of people who feel pretty powerless. …That’s how I define powerless. Not poverty. Not adversity alone. But the inability to alter your condition.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I want to address a couple issues having to do with the Clinton Foundation since it has been in the news a lot lately. I know you’ve said that there’s no evidence that any of the donors who have given to the foundation have received anything in response from the State Department while Secretary Clinton was there.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, FORMER: Nobody even suggested it or talked about it or thought about it until the political season began. Somebody said, well what about this? Nobody’s asked me for anything or any of that.

TAPPER: Well let me ask you about that because I think a lot of people might say okay you say there’s no evidence for anything done for them but can you say that these companies, these wealthy individuals, these governments, none of them sought anything? I mean, some of them had business before the state dept.

CLINTON: I don’t know. I can say the one thing that there’s nothing to it is the Algeria giving half a million dollars for the Haiti earthquake. Because I was the UN coordinator for Haiti before the earthquake. And we put out of the word that if people who didn’t know anything about Haiti wanted to give money and know it would be well spent and wanted to put it someplace where 100% of the money would go to Haiti that nobody would take a penny out of the top for administrative costs. They could send it to us and we would move it. So that Algerian money, we didn’t report that not because we were ashamed of it, but because it was coming within 2 days of the earthquake and they were performing imputative surgery on the lawn outside the major hospital with a flashlight at night and vodka for anesthesia and antiseptic. Nobody thought about it. I know of no example. You never know what people’s motives are. But in this case, I’m pretty sure everyone who gave to the Haiti earthquake saw what they saw on television and it was horrifying and wanted to make a difference. And I announced early on that we would never make any money off of that. We would never even take administrative overhead. And in fact we raised money and we invested it and we still do in Haiti.

TAPPER: Just to put a button on this. You’re not saying-You say you don’t know if anyone sought any favor, just that there was no-

CLINTON: No, I don’t think Hilary would know either. She, you know, she was pretty busy those years. And I don’t, I never saw her study a list of my contributors, and I had no idea who was doing business before the state dept. But I will say this. She believed- and I did too. I did the same thing when I was president- she believed that part of the Secretary of State was to advance America’s economic interests around the world and for much of the time, she was secretary for a number of complex reasons we didn’t have a commerce secretary. Now we’ve got Penny Pritzker and she’s very vigorous and very good, I think. But we didn’t have one. If she hadn’t been doing this economic diplomacy work, nobody would have been doing this. I never thought about any overlap.

TAPPER: There are polls that show that fewer and fewer Americans think your wife is honest is trustworthy. And this has happened at the same time as questions about the foundation, questions about her emails. That must really bother you.

CLINTON: Yeah, but we’re used to it. And the only thing I would say about this is number one, I’m glad it’s happening now because I trust the American people and I trust her with my life and have on more than one occasion. I think that anybody- the more people who find out about her- anybody who still really close to their best friend from grade schools is by definition trustworthy. Unless they were robbing stores together at 6 or 7. Anybody who’s got the friends of their lifetime is trustworthy. The people who know, know that. There’s been a lot of discussion in this period about disclosure. Everybody wants disclosure. I think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I remember when Hilary was completely exonerated when I was in the White House. And all that white water business. Went on official federal enquiry said that her billing records, they wished for her sake, were found earlier because they completely corroborated everything she said. And the next day there was nothing in the media about it. There was stunning non-disclosure. So now we got social media and we can have disclosure and we can live under the same rules. And it’s going to be fine. And I literally, A- I know her.  B- I know the truth. And C- I trust the American people. And it’s not happening 15 hours before the election. So I feel good about it. Free speech in politics. I think when people go to personal attacks this far before the election that means they’re scared of you. And they should be. She’d be a very good president and she’s proven out to be a pretty good candidate. I’m proud of that.

TAPPER: Can I just follow up on something you said? You said you trusted her with your life on more than one occasion. What were you talking about?

CLINTON: I don’t mean I was facing physical death. Although, I might have been when I had my heart trouble. Even when we were going together, I just relied on her, I don’t know if you had this but I had some tough years in my late 20s when you’re starting out in life you’re plagued by self-doubt. I was always rushing around cause my father died before I was born. And she was always, whenever I had trouble she was a rock in our family. I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide. And people I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me. My career prospects were not particularly bright. And she never blinked. She just said hey, it’ll turn around.  I believe you. And we built a life together based on the things we cared about and the things we loved and we were blessed with a daughter that turned out pretty well, I’d say. And we’ve been very blessed. And another thing is, it’s different when you’re our age. We’ll be fine. Whatever happens here, and you know, we’re going to come out of life ahead. And she wants to serve, and I want her to have the chance to serve if the majority of the American people agree.

TAPPER: So it seems obvious that income inequality and the fact that there’s a greater chasm in America today than there has been in a long time. And it’s going to be a big issue in 2016 and beyond.

CLINTON: It should be.

TAPPER: Someone recently described the Clinton Foundation’s purpose as using the powerful to help the powerless. Who do you see as the powerless in America today?

CLINTON: Well, I would say this. We try to get people who have money to people who don’t. And to give it to them in a way that’s empowering so it actually changes their lives. I think people who are working as hard as they can who don’t have enough money to support their kids and meet basic human needs. I think people who would give anything to go to work, can’t get employment are stuck in part time jobs. I think people who can’t work in pockets in America untouched by the recovery. Rural coal countries and eastern part of the country. Native American reservations that don’t have casinos and don’t have enough population density. Many places in the Mississippi gulf and in other parts of the country. I think there a lot of people who feel pretty powerless. What they do, they can’t change the future. That every tomorrow is just like yesterday. That’s how I define powerless. Not poverty. Not adversity alone. But the inability to alter your condition.

TAPPER: One of our breakout sessions this week is about connecting youth with employment. If you look at a city like Baltimore, where there’s been a lot of press coverage recently, the unemployment rate for young black men in Baltimore, between 20-24 is 37 percent. For their white equivalent, it’s 10 percent. But you can’t look at Baltimore where Martin O’Malley was the mayor, and there have been a lot of Democrats and Democratic rule trying to improve the lot of people in Baltimore where they spend a great deal per pupil. You can’t look at that city and say nobody has tried. What are some of the things that haven’t been tried?

CLINTON: First, I believe we ought to try to accelerate development opportunities and jobs near where these young people live. Baltimore’s great shining jewel of a company is now Under Armour. It’s a local company with a local leader who didn’t move the jobs out of Baltimore. I think there are 1700 jobs there or something like that. I'd go get that guy from Under Armor and I would bring all these leaders and a lot of these kids in and I'd figure out what to do and come up with a strategy.  And you don't have to solve it all overnight.  You just have to make it better than it was. What's killing all these communities is that everybody thinks every tomorrow is going to be like yesterday, you're toast.  You can deal with poverty, adversity, anything, as long as they think it could be different. That Baltimore thing came on the heels of what happened in Ferguson, what happened in New York City, and all these other places. And there was this big national movement about whether the lives of these young African American men matter. Look, you can't have a bunch of people walking around with guns.  I used to tell people whenever - when we did Bosnia, Kosovo, anything like that, you get enough people with weapons around and there will be unintended consequences.  People make mistakes.  People do wrong.  Things happen. The - to hold the community together, you've got to have a high level of community trust.  If somebody that's in your family gets shot, you want an answer from somebody you know.  And you want to be able to ask questions and get them answered and resolve that. So I think in addition to the economics, we need to look at the places in America where these things happen and they don't drive people into the streets, because they actually trust the process in resolving them. We - there are so - There's such a trust deficit in America today.  Somebody jumped on The New York Times because they accepted a contribution from our family foundation. Did you see that?

TAPPER:  Yeah, was that The Neediest Cases Fund, The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund?

CLINTON:  Yeah—did we – yeah, we gave them some money. Hillary told me that George Soros had given a substantial amount of money to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund to help the people who had - who had worked on 9/11 and had residual health problems.  And I like that Neediest Cases Fund a lot.  And I really – and that was a very important priority for her as a senator. So she said, please, let's give them some money, and we sent it in.  It had nothing to do with anything, but even somebody accuses a newspaper of, you know, were we trying to buy the endorsement?  But there – it's – it's a metaphor for all this trust deficit in the country.

TAPPER:  I want to ask you about veterans, because I know that's an issue that CGI America has been working on and that you got commitments from two groups, “Service Nation” and “Got Your 6” to help veterans transition. Things have certainly improved from the days when you were younger and veterans - Vietnam veterans were being spit upon in the streets. But today, it's a different kind of tragedy.  It's veterans committing suicide.  It's veterans suffering in silence.  It's the VA scandal. You're somebody who has actually sent men into battle, some of whom didn't make it back. What can be done to help these people who have - who have given so much and have such a tough time and don't seem to know what to do after they leave the military?

CLINTON: A positive but mixed blessing is many of these veterans who have sustained brain injuries particularly, survived roadside bombs, which, in an earlier era, would have killed them.  And battlefield medicine has improved so much, that a lot of people who were surviving were previously killed, but then they bring big challenges home and they have to be dealt with. And then they come home to a country that has not fully recovered from a searing economic problem so they find that the veterans' unemployment rate for most of the last decade was 25 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate. So you had physical challenges, psychological challenges and economic realities.  And we've done what we could to support like Team Rubicon, that great veterans group that –

TAPPER:  Yes.

CLINTON:  - goes to disaster sites.  They did that.  I think they knew that it was good therapy for these guys as well as something they needed, because it's as you develop the skill in the military and we really, really need it at home.  And you matter.  You're important.  This is a - this matters a lot. I don't think there's a silver bullet here, either.  But again, I think the main thing is that you've got to convince people that the future can be better than today, you've got to convince them that we care and there has to be a high trust level.

TAPPER: I know a lot of people in this audience would love for you to put on your political analyst hat.  I know you can't look at the Democratic side right now, for obvious reasons. Size up the Republican field. What do you like? What do you not like? What do you think is going on there?

CLINTON: Well, there's a lot of them.  It looks more like the Kentucky Derby than Belmont. (LAUGHTER) It's a - and a - I like that horse, American Pharaoh.  That was amazing. The - first of all, they've got a lot of youth, they've got a lot of energy.  They've got some significant diversity and they're no dummies.  I mean it's interesting, you know, they've got - and it's a pretty - and they believe what they believe.  They still believe trickle-down economics works better than investment and - and their convictions are so great that they're undeterred by evidence and I - that's always amazing to me. But they're - they're impressive.  And they have some differences of opinion on like the national security issues and the incarceration issues and all that.  It will be interesting to watch them debate. I - I sympathize with the question of how the primary voters are going to decide who to vote for and whether it's fair or unfair for some people to be eliminated from the televised debates.  I don't know how you listen to 12 people in a televised debate. But –

TAPPER:  Or 16.

CLINTON:  Yes, or however many they've got.  Here's what I think that generally, Republican primary voters, since you and I have been doing this, wind up voting for the person they think has the best chance to win, in spite of the - because they figure the Tea Party is taking over the House.  They've got all their ideological dreams fulfilled.  They've got the, you know, the - the Democratic base voters persist at voting in lower numbers in midterm, which give them, the Republicans, the House, a fair chance to have the Senate, although it will probably keep rotating, and the chance to elect governors and legislatures and keep reapportioning people so that like an - it was unbelievable, in 2012, the House Democrats got more votes in North Carolina and Virginia than the House Republicans did.  And there were eight Republicans and three Democrats in Virginia and nine Republicans and four Democrats in North Carolina. So the reason I'm saying this is it may be harder this year than before to figure out who's the most electable candidate. But I - I predict that at some point during this process, whatever they're debating and whatever the stories are, there will be a move by people who think they can influence the process to settle on the one that's most electable, because they figure they've already got what they need.  They've got the Congress and they just want to win the White House so bad they can, you know - I - I get that.  I mean I understand that. But that's what makes it, for an outsider who doesn't understand all the ins and outs of it, might - it will make it difficult to predict, because I think they don't know, do they need somebody who's new? Do they need somebody who's seasoned? Do they need somebody who's got a forward-leaning position on immigration or will it disillusion their people and they stay home? Do they need all this kind of - you know, they've got all these decisions to make. But in the end, it's going to come down to who's the most electable candidate, because they want to win.

END INTERVIEW

 

 


Topics: CNN • Jake Tapper • State of the Union
tmpl
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.