Former President Bill Clinton told NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press" that the so-called "vast right-wing conspiracy" still exists and is "as virulent as it was," but has had its impact diminished by the nation's changing demographics.
Gregory asked: “Your wife famously talked about the vast right wing conspiracy targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?”
The former president replied: “Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was. I mean, they're saying things about him. You know, it's like when they accused me of murder, and all that stuff they did. … But … it's not really good for the Republicans and the country, what's going on now. I mean, they may be hurting President Obama. They can take his numbers down. They can run his opposition up. But, fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America. Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail."
More from the interview:
DAVID GREGORY: “Let's talk about some of the big challenges back home for President Obama and on health care. As this debate rolls through you remember it well. Do you think the president has leveled with the American people on this fact — that Americans are gonna have to pay higher taxes if they want health care reform?
BILL CLINTON: “Well, I think he's made it clear that it costs some money to insure more people, … and I have no criticism of what he's done. He's been at a terrible disadvantage in the law-making phase. Remember what old Mark Twain said: ‘There are two things nobody should ever have watch being made. Sausage and laws.’ And he has a better congress than I did. … [w]hile they're developing the bill, he set out certain principles, and he is vulnerable to whatever anybody wants to say about any of the bills through congress, whether that's his position or not.” …
DAVID GREGORY: “I know you and President Obama, when you get together, as you did recently, talk a lot about the economy. Has it come up yet where he says, ‘Geez, Mr. President, so what happens when you're nine months into the job and the honeymoon is over?’”
BILL CLINTON: “Well, we laughed about it. I think he gets that. … I think there's still a lot of good will for him. The American people know he is highly intelligent. They know he's working his heart out. They know he's put together a good team. … Now, keep in mind, health care is complicated, can be misrepresented. It's personal. It can spark fear. It's expensive. And the people that got the money want to keep it. So the change is hard. But I think we're gonna get a health care bill. And I think he can then swing into the energy, and I think he'll get an energy bill. I think he's gonna succeed.” …
DAVID GREGORY: “But do you worry about a repeat of '94, politically?”
BILL CLINTON: “There's no way they can make it that bad. For several reasons. Number one, the country is more diverse and more interested in positive action. Number two, they've seen this movie before, because they had eight years under President Bush when the Republicans finally had the whole government, and they know the results were bad. And-- (LAUGHTER) number three-- the Democrats haven't taken on the gun lobby like I did, and they took 15 of our members out. So I don't think-- it'll be, whatever happens, it'll be manageable for the president.” …
DAVID GREGORY: “You left the presidency, but you've hardly had a low profile, with Clinton Global Initiative, and other things. Do you think about a return to either public office or another form of public life?”
BILL CLINTON: “No. I -- that's Hillary's job now. We've totally switched roles. She spent most of her life in the nongovernmental sector, and that's what I do now. I love what I do now. And, while I can't touch as many lives and as many things as I did as president, the things I do focus on we can have a huge impact. And I'm trying to convince people that all of us need to be the kind of thing I'm doing now. I think 21st century citizenship is gonna be exciting. And I like being a part of it.
DAVID GREGORY: “Will she run for president again then?”
BILL CLINTON: “(LAUGHTER) That's up to her. I do-- you know, we're not getting any younger. (LAUGHTER) But I'm proud of what she's doing now. I think she's doing a good job. And I'm honored that, I think it's pretty thrilling that she and the president have established the relationship they have. And it's a good argument for reconciliation and remembering the big things for all the rest of us.”