Tags: clinton | russert | GOP

Bill Clinton Rates GOP Candidates

Sunday, 30 Sep 2007 10:10 PM

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Former President Clinton handicapped the Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential race, telling Tim Russert of "Meet the Press" on Sunday that he sees Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney as the favorites.

"I can’t tell you who I thinks going to win. I think in an amorphous way, they’d all -- they’d like for [Fred] Thompson to be their nominee because it’s like Reagan in 1980 and President Bush in 2000 -- real conservative but enough pizzazz that independents can read whatever they want into it. It’s like a Rorschach test. But they can’t do that yet because, like he said, he didn’t think al-Qaida was a serious threat and didn’t know where he stood on [Terri] Schiavo and all that.

"I think that Giuliani proved quite durable, and we don’t know whether this will endure when they start to advertise. But he’s been quite durable. I think Romney is a very appealing candidate in a lot of ways and has a lead in Iowa and New Hampshire. So the real -- there are two questions here that will determine the outcome of this, in my opinion, unless Thompson catches fire. One is, can Romney win in Iowa and New Hampshire if he gets right up to the last week with a lead there but he’s still running third or fourth in the national polls? The second is, can Giuliani hold his lead if there’s national advertising about his positions on all the social issues?

"And then there’s, there’s the sort of unknown, which is, can there be a surprise? And there’s only two potential surprises, I think. One is, John McCain, I think, has a second breath. And if the independents in New Hampshire decide to vote in the Republican Party instead of the Democratic Party, he could surprise. He’s a very fine man. He’s given a lot to this country. And, and I disagree with him strongly about Iraq, but I admire him. And any person would. And you just -- a guy with -- that’s got that kind of meat about him, even though he was poorly served by the people who spent all his money, you can’t count him out.

"And there’s the only dark horse with a chance to score, I think, is my former governor down in Arkansas, [Mike] Huckabee, who’s a -- we were born in the same little town, he’s a little younger than I am, but he’s the best speaker and, as he said, he’s extremely conservative but he’s not mad at anybody about it. And he’s, you know, he’s sort of the sleeper candidate.

"I, I have no idea how this is all going to shake out, but the two principal determinants, I’d say today, are, can Romney hold the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire he now has if he doesn’t move up in the national polls? Can Giuliani hold the lead in the national polls if he doesn’t move up in Iowa and New Hampshire and when they start to advertise?"

Russert also asked Clinton what his role would be in an administration led by his wife, Hillary.

"I have no idea. You know the Scots say I should be first laddy. But I don’t know. I’m more interested in what I’d be called upon to do. And it’s been illegal for 40 years, since Robert Kennedy served as attorney general, and then the Democratic Congress with President Johnson in office made it illegal for the members of families of the president to be in the Cabinet. I actually agree with that. I think it would be a mistake for Hillary to give me a line policy-making job. I think I should be available to help her with specific foreign problems, that she said, and maybe to help to promote the domestic agenda, go around the country and help promote it."

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