In a hard-changing interview with Charlie Rose tonight, Bill Clinton said Americans who are prepared to choose someone with less experience, are prepared to "roll the dice" about the future of America. "It's less predictable, isn't it? When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service before he's running?"
"What do you want to do -- whether you think it matters that, I mean, in theory, no experience matters," Clinton said. "In theory, we could find someone who is a gifted television commentators and let them run. They'd have only one year less experience in national politics..."
And Clinton said the notion that experience led the politicians to sanction the Iraq War is "absurd."
"That's like saying that because 100% of the malpractice cases are committed by doctors, the next time I need surgery, I'll get a chef or a plumber to do it."
Towards the end of the interview, Rose indicated that Clinton's staff was asking producers in his show's control room to get them to have Rose end the interview.
And Clinton said: "Somebody will parse this interview..." to take his quotes out of context. "It is stupid... I think we are fortunate in having people..I think the relevant question from me is, who will be the best president who has a proven record of making change in the lives of other people."
They may parse his body language. Toward the end of the interview, his hands began to shake and his face reddened as he discussed the political thicket his wife finds herself in.
Please read this rough transcription of Clinton's take on why his wife isn't doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire.
"Really, really interesting, that I've heard Sen. Obama a dozen times making some fairly derisive comment about Hillary...saying, you know, she had a decades old plan to be president...repeating this total canard that...totally fabricated account from an anti-Hillary book...as if it was something bad that he didn't have a decades-long president...so on their website they put reports that he had been planning to run for president...and they put this thing when he was in kindergarten that he planned to run for president..but the Obama people got the press on their side..."
Rose asked Clinton whether he was nervous about the state of the campaign.
"Well, no. Let me back up. In January, when on New Years Day, she said she was finally going to try and do this... I said I'll make you a prediction...allt he press will say you will coast to the nomination....I think you will have a difficult time getting nominated, and if you are nominated, you'll win the general election handily.....[HRC asked why]...you'll have to run in Iowa, which is the single most difficult state...but Sen. Edwards has a well-earned, huge cadre of support in Iowa because he's worked it for seven years...Sen. Obama is next door, that matters.
Rose: "You think that's the reason for the polls...""
Clinton: "On Edwards, there is no doubt...So, look I've done this before. When I lost in New Hampshire to Paul Tsongas, I lost the first 10 miles next to the Massachusetts border. I carried everything from 10 miles north up to the Canadian border. There are thousands of Illinois students in Iowa colleges...who have never caucused before...[insists he's not lowering expectations.]..he's been to 75 counties, she's been to 50..so my view of this is that I never thought she had a big lead in Iowa...the Iowa people have been really fair to her...they've listened to her and they've given her a chance, and she might win there...and it is astonishing...from the beginning of this race, she had a lead in 36 of 38 states...and not having good luck...what has really happened...what i have been frustrated about has nothing to do with her campaign...the challenges in the polls in the moments will be overcome..I can feel in Iowa, it depends on what people think the answer is...in New Hampshire...the Republicans have been attacking her in all the debates...those attacks affect independent voters...she is not in a position to answer back what the Republicans are doing in the primary...that has not been good..."
"In Iowa, nobody wants to go negative on television, so really it's a war underneath the radar screen and it has more to do with how the press interprets it than anything else...what broke her momentum there was the extraordinary attention given to her not very great answer on the driver's licenses....the press should have a common set of standards..."
"He is great, Edwards is really good..."
"It's a miracle she's got a chance to win."
Richardson, Biden, Dodd are ready to be president, Clinton says.
"Obama has got great skills. It depends on what the American people think is more important....[do they] have somebody who is very his very nature a compelling, very attractive, highly intelligent, visible symbol of transformation, or is it more ...[important] to have someone who would also symbolize change...but who has done a significant number of things to change other people's lives."