10 years ago4.1K views
In a surprisingly frank interview with Charlie Rose on his PBS show late Friday night, former President Bill Clinton declared that his wife was not only far better prepared to be president than her chief rival Sen. Barack Obama -- "it's not even close" -- but that voters who disagreed would be taking a "risk" if they picked the latter.
Repeatedly dismissive of Obama -- which could come back to haunt the Clinton campaign -- the former president at one point said that voters were, of course, free to pick someone with little experience, even, he said, "a television commentator" who would have just "one year less" experience in national office than Obama.
He praised Obama's intelligence and "sensational political skills" but repeatedly suggested that, unlike his wife and some of the other candidates, he might not be ready for the job.
Later he said that his friends in the Republican party had indicated that they felt his wife would be the strongest candidate, partly because she had already been "vetted" -- another subtle slap at Obama.
Also: He said the most important thing to judge was who would be "the best agent for change" not merely a "symbol for change....symbol is not as important as substance."
"I guess I'm old fashioned," he said, in wanting a president who had actually done things for people. He said some people could "risk" taking someone who had served just a year in the Senate if they chose.
He also repeatedly drew a distinction between Obama's focus on "hope" and his wife's actual accomplishments. If a call had gone out from his wife's campaign to pull back any critiques of Obama, her husband clearly did not get the memo.
Clinton did say that he gets "tickled" watching Obama because of his attractiveness and political skills. "I like all these people," he said. "I have nothing bad to say about him or anyone else."