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Bill Clinton Interview: Hillary Will Make the Decisions

Christopher Ruddy By Thursday, 01 November 2007 07:49 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Bill Clinton remains more powerful than ever – despite having left the White House almost seven years ago.

In a recent interview with Newsmax, the former president tells of his new book, his global charity campaign, and his role if his wife becomes president next year.

His book “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World” debuted at the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list when it was published in September, and has been called a “powerful, inspirational guide” for everyday citizens.

Interestingly, Clinton argues in “Giving” that individuals, non-profits, even churches, can work together to improve the health and living conditions of the world’s poor. This is certainly a laudable effort.

Using his Clinton Foundation, the former president has sought to enlist private and corporate help in major global initiatives that tackle a range of concerns from AIDS to childhood obesity.

The Clinton Global Initiative boasts more than 570 commitments worth an astounding $10 billion, involving more than 1,000 organizations and targeting 100 countries.

There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president.

And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States.

Newsmax covers the important stories of our time, and one of these stories is the one about the new Bill Clinton.

Our November edition of Newsmax magazine has just been released and features in-depth cover story: “Bill Clinton Still (Very Much) in Power.” [Editor's Note: Get a Free copy of our report on Bill Clinton — Go Here Now.]

Recently, I interviewed former President Clinton about his post-presidency. In this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he “will do whatever she asks me to do.”

Newsmax: Your book “Giving” is just out and has soared to the top of the best-seller lists. Do you think you have touched a nerve among Americans who want to embrace the concept?

Clinton: As I say in the book, giving makes people happier. I believe that most people truly want to give, but some don’t know how to start. Or they think they don’t have enough to give to make a difference. I wrote this book on the premise that everyone can make an impact and improve lives by giving simple things – time, talent, money, knowledge – and I think people just want to know they can make a difference and how to do so.

Newsmax: In your book, you mention briefly that your almost-fatal heart problem in 2004 made you more eager to continue your work on behalf of the needy, especially young people. Do you feel after you left the White House your political work was not enough and you needed to do more?

Clinton: Yes, I felt that, after the wonderful life I’ve led, I was obligated to use my experience to keep younger people from dying before their time, and to help more people have the chance to live fulfilling lives.

Newsmax: Do you feel the heart incident made you focused on your spiritual side? How has your own religious faith played a role in your global work today?

Clinton: Yes. It made me see each day as a gift that requires giving back. As a Christian, I was raised to believe that it is much better to give than to receive, that we’re all in this together, and that we will be judged by how we respond to those less fortunate than we are.

Newsmax: Do you look back and say you should have focused more on this concept of “Giving” during your presidency?

Clinton: I wish the Congress had been more receptive to the kind of initiatives I support now, once we get our financial house in order. However, we did quite a lot to empower people. For example, in 1993 I signed legislation that launched AmeriCorps, which has given 500,000 young people an opportunity to give back to their communities; doubled the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income working families; provided new banking and saving opportunities to low-income people, and extended two million micro-enterprise loans per year to entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Newsmax: In “Giving” you show how private individuals and groups are making a big difference. Government is mentioned, but it seems to play a secondary role. This sounds like an idea more Republican in approach. Do you think private organizations can be more effective than government?

Clinton: Sometimes they can, by moving faster and less expensively, or by being innovative with less fear of failure. But what seems to work best is when citizen groups work in conjunction with governments, especially in developing countries. That’s what I try to do. We also work with donor governments in our AIDS program, including the Bush Administration.

Newsmax: The AIDS crisis is a huge problem devastating Africa and other parts of the lesser-developed world. How is the Clinton Foundation making a difference?

Clinton: Since 2002, the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative has worked to expand care and treatment to hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. We’ve focused our efforts on lowering the cost of treatment and partnering with governments to scale up national programs in 25 countries, and 71 nations buy inexpensive medications off our contract. We’ve helped 750,000 people living with HIV/AIDS to access lifesaving medicines. We’re bringing treatment and health- care services to rural areas, and through a partnership with UNITAID, we’ve lowered the prices of lifesaving pediatric medicines to only $60 per child, per year.

Although we have been able to make great strides, alongside the Global Fund on AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the president’s PEPFAR initiative, the Gates Foundation and others, we still have a long way to go to ensure that every person who needs treatment can get it, and that prevention efforts are adequate.

Newsmax: Recently you called for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries battling the disease. Why do you see this as important?

Clinton: Ninety percent of all people who are HIV-positive don’t know that they are. And common sense tells us that if people don’t know they’re infected, they won’t seek out the treatment they may need to survive, or refrain from behavior that affects other people. My foundation’s HIV/AIDS initiative has worked hard to cut the cost of testing from three dollars to about 50 cents. The stigmas associated with testing that existed in the 80s have dissipated – and now, it is irresponsible not to test everybody in high-risk groups in all the countries with significant instances of AIDS.

Last year, Lesotho — a country of 2.2 million people surrounded by South Africa with the third-highest infection rate in the world at 27 percent — became the first country ever to adopt a policy to test every single citizen over 12. I hope other countries will follow Lesotho’s example. Testing is not a panacea -- we also need behavioral changes, and other efforts, but it will go a long way to save lives and give developing countries an opportunity to meet many of their other challenges.

Newsmax: Turning for a moment to the presidential race, polls show that voters, especially Democrats, see you as a big positive to Hillary's presidential candidacy. Are we getting “two for the price of one” this time around?

Clinton: I will certainly do anything I can to help her, but there can only be one president. If Hillary is elected, she will make the decisions. So in that respect, a vote for Hillary is just that – a vote for the strongest candidate with the most experience to lead this country back to prosperity, to advance our security and increase our cooperation with others on problems we can’t solve alone. I’m honored that people see me as an asset to her candidacy, and if she’s elected I will do whatever she asks me to do.

Newsmax: Your wife has stated if she is elected she sees you as an “ambassador to the world.” Do you see your role along these lines?

Clinton: I will serve in whatever capacity she deems most appropriate. I’d be glad to work around the world, in cooperation with the secretary of state, but I also hope that I can remain involved and further the work of my foundation in global health, poverty, climate change and other areas that already take me around the globe. I believe that would be good for America too.

Newsmax: On a personal note, what do you miss most about being president?

Clinton: I made a promise to myself when I left office that I wouldn’t spend a moment thinking about what I miss about being president. I loved the job. The thing I loved most was getting things done, knowing people were better off when I stopped than when I started. But I also really enjoy the work I do now in my foundation, for many of the same reasons. And I have more opportunity to relate directly to all kinds of people.

Newsmax: And today what is the best thing about being an ex-president?

Clinton: I can choose the issues I want to get involved with, without getting sidetracked by unforeseen developments. The President can’t do that. And while I’m working as hard as ever, I have more control over my time. I can go to dinner with my family or play golf or tour interesting sites with a freedom I didn’t often have as President.

Newsmax: Finally, what advice would you give to President Bush as he contemplates his post-presidential years?

Clinton: Your dad has set a great example: Do what you love and help where you can.

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Bill Clinton remains more powerful than ever – despite having left the White House almost seven years ago. In a recent interview with Newsmax, the former president tells of his new book, his global charity campaign, and his role if his wife becomes president next year.His...
Thursday, 01 November 2007 07:49 AM
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