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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Al Hunt

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Al Hunt

Last Build Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 13:45:44 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Interview With Bill Clinton

Fri, 28 Sep 2007 13:45:44 -0600

But then he minimized the threat of Osama bin Laden and said he didn't know where he stood on the Schiavo case and I think on a case like that, being for it or against it, anything is better than not knowing. So, you've got this curious situation where Romney is leading in a pretty strong position apparently in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's the better cultural fit for Iowa than Mayor Giuliani, and he's closer to New Hampshire being the former governor of Massachusetts than Mayor Giuliani. But he is running fourth or third in all the national polls. I also think Giuliani so far has proved more durable than I thought he would. And you have McCain, I think, making a comeback with almost no money. I've never seen a man more abused by his support staff than McCain was; they wasted too much money and it's scandalous because his deserves to be a major candidate in this race. He's an admirable human being. I disagree with him on Iraq, but I'm proud that he's challenged the Republicans to embrace campaign finance reform and climate change and any number of other issues. And then you've got, I think, their only wild card really right now is the governor - former governor of Arkansas, Huckabee, he finished second in the Iowa polls. MR. HUNT: From Hope, Ark? PRES. CLINTON: Yeah, from my hometown and he's the best speaker they got. So I think he's got sort of an outside chance. I don't know what's going to happen, but I think the real question is, you'll be able to tell, number one, can Romney maintain his lead in Iowa, New Hampshire until New Years Day. If he does, but he doesn't move to second in the national polls, then the whole thing is going to be determined, in my opinion, by whether Iowa and New Hampshire voters stick with him from New Years Day through voting. MR. HUNT: You mentioned Mayor Giuliani. When he was mayor and you were president, you all apparently had a very good relationship. On the campaign trail, he's said some pretty tough things about your administration. He said that Khobar Towers, USS Cole, first World Trade Center - that you did not adequately respond. Bin Laden, and I'm quoting him, "declared war on the U.S. because the Clinton administration did not sufficiently respond." PRES. CLINTON: Well, I, you know, first I have the 9/11 Commission Report, which disputes that. But if you look at the Khobar Towers, I mean, if you look at the first World Trade Center, nobody knew anything about al Qaeda being an operational arm, nobody. We got every single person that was involved in that. They were put on trial, convicted, and jailed. We even extradited somebody from Pakistan for that, number one. Number two, on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis captured and killed all the people they said were responsible for it. Number three, with regard to the Cole, I definitely would have, after the African embassy bombing, I tried to kill bin Laden. I had the only actionable intelligence I ever had and we bombed the place where we thought he was. On the USS Cole, that happened in October one month before the election. MR. HUNT: So Rudy is just unfair. PRES. CLINTON: Yeah, but let's talk about the Cole. I wanted to go in. But the CIA and the FBI did not jointly agree formally on the FBI's responsibility. As you remember, when President Bush went into Afghanistan, we needed basing rights around there to set it up and to go. We could not have gotten basing rights without a U.N. resolution, which I couldn't get until there was a clear official declaration of his responsibility. But Mayor Giuliani - it's the political season. I worked with him when he was mayor on housing issues, and especially on law enforcement issues. I had a very cordial relationship with him. But he's not accurate what he's saying about what we did on terror. MR. HUNT: Let me ask you one question about the Democrats. I'm not going to pull an ambush blind quote with you. This is from Hillary Clinton's autobiography. She's writing about you, circa 1992. And I quote, "he was initially dismissed [...]