4 things we learned from Bill Clinton’s BBC interview

Is Bill Clinton ready to hit the road for the next two years? The former president was interviewed on the BBC’s "Newsnight" program in India on Thursday. Topics covered included the Clinton Foundation, the situation in Israel and America’s legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan. But most interestingly, Bill revealed, in depth, his thoughts on his wife's potential 2016 presidential bid.

Here are the highlights of what he said:

1. He owes his wife 26 years
“Whatever I’m ready to do is whatever she wants me to do.” The former president gave the impression that he's ready to let Hillary Rodham Clinton call the shots in their political relationship. He pointed out that she deferred to his political career for 26 years. Now it’s his turn to return the favor.

As he jokingly pointed out, if Hillary runs and wins two terms as president, he would be pushing 80 by the time they left the White House.

2. Hillary hasn't asked Bill’s opinion about 2016
Of his wife’s decision whether to run or not, Bill said, “I’ve told Hillary repeatedly she would have make this decision. If she wants my opinion, I’ll give it to her.”

And has she asked for his thoughts? “Absolutely not,” he said, pointing out that “for last 14 years she’s had more hands-on experience than I have.” Recalling what he said in 2008, Bill said he believes its “her time, she gets to decide and if I can help I will.”

3. Being president is still important to Bill
“A lot of people don’t believe me when I say this, but we’ve had a great life. We love what we’re doing now with this foundation,” said the former president. But after a pause and a sigh, he said, “On the other hand, if you’re president, you have the opportunity to do things that no one else does.”

Even though he’s been out of office for 14 years, Bill said he still believes in the power of the Oval Office. But as a warning to any contenders, he says any candidate has to “to have a theory of the case, you gotta have ideas, you gotta have policies, you’ve gotta work at it. It’s an exhausting thing.”

4. The advantages of a woman president
When the interviewer maneuvered the conversation around to Hillary, she asked Bill whether America is ready for a female president. “I think it would be at one level transformative just because we've never had a women elected," the former president said. "But if the president showed a remarkable gift for both strength and toughness and for leaving the door open constantly for negotiation, that would be a good thing. It would represent what most people think of as almost archetypal women's strengths.”

Regardless of their sex, Bill thinks the next president will have to govern "with a level of co-operation that we’re not used to right now.”

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics
Next Story
Jaime Fuller and Philip Bump · July 18