Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Bill Clinton

Aired September 16, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, former President Bill Clinton, working with former President Bush to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and now organizing world leaders to tackle global problems. America's 42nd president, for the hour, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, special night tonight. We're at the Sheraton Hotel in New York where a major event is about to kick off this evening. We'll talk about that in a while with former President Bill Clinton. It's his global initiative that takes place. We'll spend a lot of time talking about it. First, a couple of current things, what do you make of the whole Katrina story to you, the apologies, the responsibility, the mayor, the president, how do you overview?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, I think the president did the right thing in taking responsibility. Clearly, the FEMA response was slow and there are lots of reasons that I think that happened. I believe that there should be some reorganization there, but I think the important thing is I had hoped this bill to set up a commission would pass because I don't want it to obscure the present, urgent need of everybody to keep working together. We now have apparently a very able person in the Coast Guard admiral is there overseeing the FEMA operations.

We've got the state and local operations underway in Louisiana, also in Mississippi and Alabama and, you know, I've been governor during a lot of natural disasters, terrible natural disasters. And when I was president we had a lot of very big ones and now we just all need to be rowing in the same boat, trying to get people's lives back together and get the plans in place to rebuild the areas, particularly New Orleans.

KING: Your wife proposed that commission, right?

CLINTON: Yeah, and I think it was the right thing to do but if we're not going to do that, then I think we ought to have a serious look at what should be done to change FEMA, but that should be done in Washington without in anyway interrupting the flood of aid going to the areas and all the rest of us should be focused on what we can do to help the people there. That's what I think should be done.

KING: Should FEMA not be part of national security?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I'm biased. I liked it the way it was. I think the most important thing is we probably should have some sort of requirement that anybody who has the job has prior experience in emergency management. It's a very serious, important job and the person I put in charge of it, James Lee Witt had been my emergency management person in Arkansas.

But typically, all through the past, the people who got it were people who were considered for like cabinet jobs or sub-cabinet jobs or ambassadorships or something. It's sort of the standard thing but when an emergency strikes, that person becomes the most important person in the federal government. And I think the way we set it up, I had a qualified person there. We reorganized and strengthened the agency. I made it a cabinet-level agency and when a disaster struck, everybody in the government worked for that person.

And so, I think that -- my own view is it worked better but if they want to leave it within Homeland Security, I still think it should be somehow made quasi-independent and the disaster preparedness and aversion capacity should be strengthened.

A lot of that was taken away, so I think, you know there are lots of options to do it but the main thing I want to say is that should not obscure what is now being done by everybody. We've got everybody on the same page now, it looks like. We've got everybody working together and we've got a huge job to do. Former President Bush and I are...

KING: How much money have you raised?

CLINTON: About 90 million bucks, more than I ever dreamed and I think there'll be more coming and so we're going to announce next week some of the plans for doing this but we really, really want to make sure this money gets directly to the people in need.

KING: How do you know that?

CLINTON: You have to set up accountability systems, let people come to you with proposals and then account for the money that's spent. I think most people in this deal are really honest and I think that there's going to be a massive amount of money appropriated by the federal government to help not only start businesses again and rebuild the infrastructure but to help people but they're going to be a lot of things that fall between the cracks.

I mean you've got people now spread out all over the country being taken care of by churches and other religious institutions and just individual families and the needs are enormous. Then they're all going to have to decide, are they going to go home or not?

So there are a lot of very tough decisions which will have to be made and what we want to do is use this money in very specific areas where people otherwise would fall between the cracks and be really hurt by it and to support especially what a lot of these churches are doing -- I am really impressed by what they are doing in helping, you know, find homes for people to live with, getting the kids in school, doing all those things. It's really amazing but all of them need some help.

KING: I want to get to the global initiative. But what do you think of Judge Roberts and his performance at the committee? CLINTON: He's been very impressive and very adroit and he sort of tippy-toed around the questions that would have gotten him in real trouble no matter what he'd answered, you know, if he answers a Roe v. Wade question, he gets in trouble either with the Democrats or with the Republicans.

KING: Why can't he answer -- why can't anybody answer a simple question like, do you think a woman has a right to an abortion?

CLINTON: I think he should be able to answer it but I think that he knows if he does and if he says no, "I'm going to repeal Roe v. Wade," then the Democrats would filibuster it and if he says "I won't repeal it," then all the right wingers that are for him now would go nuts. So he's got to leave the thing hanging.

And you know, obviously, when he was younger he was very hostile to it. You can read that in the Reagan papers. But he's been a judge now. He's older. He may think that it's not worth overturning the precedent. He may not know what he's going to do. It's possible he doesn't know what he's going to.

KING: You've appointed judges, and obviously there are times, Breyer or Ginsburg or someone, renders a decision you would have gone against as a lawyer.

CLINTON: That's correct.

KING: And judges have done that over the years (INAUDIBLE).


KING: What happens when someone goes on the court?

CLINTON: Well, I think first of all, you don't want somebody necessarily who's going to agree with you all the time.

KING: You don't?

CLINTON: No. I mean, you want someone who is generally philosophically in line with you, I think if you're a president but it's -- if two smart people are thinking, they're never going to agree all the time. They can't do it. It's impossible.

So I think that what you want to do is to appoint someone that you'll always be proud of as long as you live. And I'm quite proud of Justice Ginsburg and I'm quite proud of Justice Breyer. I think they've served the country well. On more than one occasion, they have made decisions with which I disagree. And you know, maybe, in retrospect, they disagreed with one or two of them.

You know, but if you make enough decisions in life, you'll make some of them wrong. So what you really want is somebody who's smart and has good values and desperately loves the country, believes in the Constitution and the Supreme Court as an institution. And then you just hope as the decisions come, they make good ones.

KING: How did the idea for a global initiative begin?

CLINTON: Well, it began really when I was thinking about going to meetings like this Davos meeting, which I really like. You know, thousands and thousands of people have been educated about global issues because of it. And I thought about it and I thought how many people wanted to do something who went there.

Then I thought, well, I'm in Harlem, and the U.N. meets every year in September and maybe we could have a meeting where we could bring the government people together with the private sector, with the non-governmental organizations and the advocates. We could all be in one room. We could talk about these things for a couple of days and actually get people to promise to do things.

So that's how the idea started. I mean, I didn't want to have another meeting where people just talked. But I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I am in New York, the U.N. is here. These world leaders come in. And my sense from just the work I do with AIDS and anti-poverty work around the world that more people than ever before who have made some money are willing to give it away if they think it is funding constructive action.

And so I thought, well, why don't we just see? Why don't we see if you could hold a meeting and say, "You can't come to our meeting and talk." You've got to come to our meeting and literally fill out a card and say, "This is what I'm going to do in the next year."

KING: And we'll go over what some people are going to do. You're going to be surprised. We'll be right back.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we pledge ourselves to the demanding work of revival and renew the faith and hope that will carry that work to completion. In the worst of storms and in the rush of floodwaters, even the strongest faith can be tested, yet the scriptures assure us many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.



KING: Now this Clinton Global Initiative, is it under the auspices of your foundation?

CLINTON: Yes but it's funded separately. I -- I have sponsors like Tom Galisano (ph) from upstate New York, you know, that...

KING: Ran for governor or senator.

CLINTON: That's right. Very interested in...

KING: Conservative.

CLINTON: Yes, he's conservative. But he's interested in constructive philosophy and I've established a good relationship with him. He's our primary sponsor but we have other sponsors as well.

And then, we charge a membership fee to the people who can afford to pay it. And with people who shouldn't have paid, we let a lot of people in, you know, gratis, the advocates and the people that are out there trying to change the world. So that's how we funded it.

KING: Now, you have people coming here. Attendees include Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Condoleezza Rice, Shimon Peres, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner. You're going to have them in the same room?

CLINTON: We are. I hope.

KING: King Abdullah and Queen Rania and they're all pledging something.

CLINTON: Well, a lot of the world leaders are already doing things. You know, Blair has been way out there on aid to Africa and other things but all the -- the private sector people who are coming are pledging things.

For example, the -- Tony Blair's principle private sector supporter for this whole aid to Africa initiative is a Scottish multimillionaire, maybe billionaire, named Kyle Hunter (ph), self-made man, started out selling sports shoes. You'd be interested to know.

And he's pledged to work with me to spend $100 million over the next decade to try to change the economics of one or more African countries, literally to lift everybody there out of poverty and give them a chance to have an education and a job. This is an astonishing thing.

And he's already done a lot of that in Scotland, where he lives, so he's -- we know he's as good as his word. That's just, you know, one of the major commitments that have been made. But it's astonishing to me that people are doing things like this.

KING: But you -- in order to be a participant, you must be doing something constructive, right? You're not just attending and listening?

CLINTON: No. Well, in order -- when you attend, you can be a listener now but when you leave, you have to have made a commitment and if you don't, we won't ask you back next year.

KING: Do it as a pledge?

CLINTON: Yes, you know, so we don't know. The thing that's astonished me is that -- that people have come to us in advance of this conference and made these commitments, over $300 million worth.

But a lot of the commitments which will be made are by the conference participants are commitments that will be made as people listen during the course of the conference to the people talk about these four areas we're dealing with. Then at the end, we'll ask the people who haven't yet made a commitment to make one. KING: And the four areas are poverty, enhancing governance, climate change and religion conflict and reconciliation. Is climate change an addition since Katrina?

CLINTON: No. It was always going to be there. I've been worried about it for years. I gave some very important -- I thought important speeches about it when I was president but nobody was interested in it back then. Now, you know, a lot of people understand global warming is related to the increase in the number and the severity of weather events.

No one can say for sure that Katrina was caused by global warming but we know that the climate is warming up. We know that 12 big chunks of ice the size of the state of Rhode Island have broken off of the South Pole in the last decade.

We know if something doesn't happen to slow this warming down, whole island nations in the Pacific will be flooded. We'll lose 50 feet of Manhattan Island in New York within the next 50 years if we don't do something to turn this around.

And we know that the disruptive effects are enormous. So Katrina brings that home to us. Now, as I say, no one can say this particular event was caused by global warming, but we do know that global warming has led to an increase in the number and intensity of weather events.

We know that local environmental conditions also play a role. For example, the destruction of the wetlands in southern Louisiana aggravated the destruction done.

KING: With global warming, can you stop it, move it back, prevent it or just slow it down? Is it a fact?

CLINTON: It's a fact right now. The first thing you ought to do, what you want to do is slow it down but it actually can be stalled entirely. It's a question of capping the volume of greenhouse gases, CO2 principally, we've put in the atmosphere. And there are all kinds of greenhouse gases that are naturally released into the atmosphere through methane production, for example, on farms. It's happening all the time naturally.

But most of the greenhouse gases that get in the atmosphere get there because we burn oil and coal. And the reason that it's been so difficult to turn this around is that many business leaders and many political leaders all around the world believe you can't get rich, stay rich and get richer unless you put more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere because you've got to burn more oil and coal.

That's not true anymore. We can create millions of jobs in America and millions more all around the world by using less oil and coal and conserving more energy, using it more efficiently and creating more clean energy through solar and wind and other sources.

KING: The great writer, Phillip Wylie, the late Phillip Wylie, told me once in an interview many years ago that when you talk to the public about the environment or generations not yet born, it goes in one ear and out the other. They're only interested in the now.

CLINTON: That's often been true. That's why the polls on the environment are so misleading. You can take any poll you want and the public would look very green. They'd look really good, you know, two- thirds of the people would support all these environmental initiatives. But they're never voting issues because they don't seem urgent.

But look, we had 9/11. We've got $65 oil. We've got $3 gasoline, many places a lot more expensive than that. We've got -- in other words, economic deprivation and economic uncertainty and national security issues with our dependence on foreign oil, and we know that the climate is warming at an unsustainable rate, in part because we're putting -- we're burning too much oil.

So we know also that we can now economically produce bio-fuels from farm waste and sugar principally, the most efficient ways. We know we can dramatically increase energy conservation. Sixty percent of all power put into electric generating facilities is wasted.

We know that we can generate tons of energy through solar and wind and other things that we've only scratched the surface of. The price of solar energy is going down 15 percent a year. The price of wind energy going down 15 percent a year and we've just barely touched it.

I reduced the energy usage of my big library by putting over 300 solar panels on the roof. We cut it by 34 percent. Now there's a three-month backup in America for solar panels, so people are getting it.

KING: We'll be right back with former President Bill Clinton, who keeps on keeping on. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with President Clinton, the Global Initiative all this weekend. We've discussed climate change. Poverty, now there is the old-fashioned statement, there'll always be poverty. That's kind of a give up kind of thing.

CLINTON: Yes. There may be -- it may be there will always be poverty. There will certainly always be some people poorer than others. But there doesn't have to be a billion people on earth living on less than a dollar a day.

And we're going to have a lot of people who are going to be really poor after this Katrina event in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We had a lot of poor people -- poor, now you've got a lot of poor people who have nothing.

So the question is, can something be done to help those people who are willing to help themselves? And the answer to that is a resounding yes. I mean, let me just give you an example.

Back in 2000, my last year as president, we had the first big round of debt relief. And we said sort of what President Bush has tried to say with his program of foreign aid. You can have this debt relief, but you have to observe human rights and be honest about accounting for the money, and you've got to put it into education, health care or economic development.

The results were stunning. They had this huge debt relief initiative and you had over two dozen countries doing things like -- Uganda has now tripled its primarily school enrollment by making sure the money not only went to education but the money actually got to education.

We know how to do this. We know how to do -- provide the credit, micro credit loans and financing for entrepreneurs in poor areas. We know what a difference these kinds of things can make. If we know how to do this and we know these people are smart, they work hard and they can make a difference.

KING: Are we obligated, though, to do it? Are people -- do people -- if we know about it...

CLINTON: I think we are morally obligated to do it. You know, if you lead -- if you read the Torah, the Christian New Testament in which Jesus 500 times mentions our obligations to the poor, more than any other moral admonition in the entire Bible, if you read the Koran, if you read any of the other major religious texts of the other faiths, we are morally obligated to do it but now it's in our interest to do it.

Let me just give you an example. We have -- in Africa we've got almost 700 people living in sub-Saharan Africa where there are two- thirds of the AIDS cases in the world. Now we have two choices.

We can just wait for people to get AIDS and spend a fortune trying to help them with health care. We can wait for tribal wars to pick up and have horrible, horrible things like Darfur in Sudan and we can do our part, as we are, to help pay for it. Or, we can try to create a sustainable society and make partners for the future.

When we adopted the Africa Trade Bill in 2000, we went from having 10 times, 20 times the amount of exports, didn't hurt our economy. Let's take tiny Lesotho, a country surrounded by South Africa, third highest AIDS rates in the world. They went from 2,000 to 50,000 jobs in textiles because of that trade bill. Tanzania, 4,000 to 50,000.

That's good for us. These people can do business with us now. They don't become terrorists. They don't fight in tribal wars. Adults get jobs. Kids go to school. We have partners for the future.

KING: It pays for us.

CLINTON: Yes. It's in our interest to do it. It's not -- it's not only morally right, it's in our interest to do it. Look, we've got four percent of the world's people and 20 percent of the world's wealth. Obviously, to sustain that, with competitors coming on from China, competitors coming on from India, where more than half the computer software in the world is made now, we've got to find more customers. We have to have more partners.

So, the economics of this are pretty clear. It's far better to create the circumstances under which people can support themselves and their families and educate their kids and live in healthy environments, get access to basic health care than to wait until all these things break down and then out of the, you know, we're compelled to help people because they're sick, they're dying, they're desperate, they're starving. And they're angry and we've got tribal wars and other things. Most of the wars in all of history have been fought over scarce resources anyway.

KING: By the way, would you want to be secretary-general?

CLINTON: No. I don't think that's a realistic option because traditionally, the secretary-general of the United Nations comes from a section of the world but not like in this case Africa or probably Asia next time, from a country that does not have a permanent vote on the Security Council and therefore a permanent veto. It's been I always thought to maintain some balance.

I love the U.N. I worked there now you know on longtime tsunami relief. I've got an office there. I've done my best to support the U.N. in every way I could. I supported the establishment of the global fund on AIDS, T.B. and malaria. I've done a lot of work with them and I believe in it but I don't think -- you know, that's not my role. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, I think.

KING: Be right back with more of former President Clinton. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with President Clinton, big weekend in his life -- the beginning -- this is the unveiling of the Global Initiative of all these many people around the world coming to pledge things, not just to vocalize it, but to actually give. We were talking during the break and I thought we'd pick up on it. I was asking you -- back to Katrina -- whether New Orleans can ever be New Orleans again.

CLINTON: Oh, I think it can.

KING: But not the same, will it?

CLINTON: But I'm not sure the population will be the same. The reason I think it can be is that, you know, it's one of our oldest cities, goes back to the early 1700s. The French Quarter and the Garden District, the sort of, you know, psychological anchors of the community, are pretty much intact physically.

But I think, you know, we don't want it just to be a sort of tiny microcosm of what it used to be where there are no working people and where there are no poor people. You know, we don't want it to be kind of a tiny, gentrified place.

And, if the French Quarter, if the culture of the French Quarter is to be brought back, you know, the Dixieland jazz and the Preservation Hall and we're going to have the kind of tourism that we had before, then the city will have to be about the size it was before.

Now what I think will happen is that the actual physical -- the people that are living there may be very different than the people that were living there before. There may be a lot of those people so traumatized, having lost everything that if they're finding new opportunity in Houston or Baton Rouge or someplace, parts further beyond, they may stay there.

But I think the city will come back as long as the people who love it and believe in its unique heritage and believe there ought to be Mardi Gras every year, believe there ought to be a place to get coffee and benier (ph) on the Mississippi river, believe that the Dixieland music ought to still be alive in the French Quarter, those people believe that and the hotels can be rebuilt. Then the folks will come to take the jobs. That's the real case.

KING: Have to move the topography a little?

CLINTON: Yes, I think, you know, I think first of all, we ought to try to have mixed neighborhoods, not isolate the poor. I really believe in that. I worked hard on that when I was president, trying to get people with -- move people from welfare to work and at the same time move them into middle class neighborhoods and kind of break this kind of culture of grinding poverty.

Mixed neighborhoods do that, they help kids to get in better schools. They help people to model different behaviors and they help people to have a sense of hope. So I'd like to see that done.

And I think that we may want to build some of those areas further away from both the Lake Pontchartrain and the river and maybe even bring in fill. You can -- even if these places are elevated two, three, four feet, it could make a difference in the next situation.

So they've got time now to think through it and goodness knows they're going to have lots of money, lots of federal money. I would like to see some significant thought given to the rebuilding process, making the whole neighborhoods, all these areas, a little more protected from the next natural disaster.

KING: I want to get back to the Global Initiative, but one question on Iraq how does it end? What's at the end of the tunnel?

CLINTON: Nobody knows yet. You know, 58 percent of the people voted in the election. They're having trouble getting a functioning constitution, and a lot of people are still getting killed.

KING: Every day.

CLINTON: Every day, all of which was, I think, quite predictable, given the history of Iraq and the animosity between the various groups. But I think that we're doing about all we can, which is to try to as quickly as we can develop police and security services capable of defending themselves and holding their country together, and at least giving them a chance to have a constitution that they can work on and a government that they can live under. At some point, if the security services become self-sustaining, they'll want us to go.

KING: How far away is that?

CLINTON: And we should go. Well, nobody knows. If we leave before that time, it will be because either our leaders have concluded that we can't make it work or the American people have just said, enough, you know, enough money, enough drain on the military, enough dying, and enough wounding -- enough.

But I think that for now even though, as you know, I thought we should have let the U.N. inspectors finish before we went in there. I think we showed way too much hurry going in there the first place. We are where we are.

And we had a lot of good people sacrifice and serve there. There's still a chance it will work. And so, we ought to just keep training and we ought to keep working for the constitution to be completed, accepted and then implemented.

KING: Should the president have met with the lady who lost her son?

CLINTON: I think he'd seen her once before. You know, I think I would have but that's a question only he can answer.

KING: But you would have.

CLINTON: Yes, you know, I met with the people that I gave the Medal of Honor to, people who -- some people who were killed on Black Hawk Down and one of the fathers was very angry at me and I knew it. And he said some really rough things to me and...

KING: How do you handle that?

CLINTON: It wasn't easy but I thought I owed it to him. His son gave his life in the service of this country and this father served in Vietnam, was a veteran. I thought that he had the right to say to me whatever he wanted to say. There is no greater pain in life than having a child die before you.

There is nothing worse and I had sent his son into harm's way. And the thing was not managed as it should have been. And he was -- as far as I was concerned, he'd earned the right to say whatever he wanted to me. And if he felt better when it was over, then it was a precious little thing I could do is to take the heat coming in.

So that's the way I feel. But that's a decision that each president has to make, you know, because it's not like he can change the lady's opinion. I just -- I think, you know, when you send people into harm's way and you know there is going to be killing and dying, some people are going to be very unhappy. History will record whether she was right or he was right on the policy but on the human level, she lost her son and that's a tough thing.

KING: We'll be back with more on the Global Initiative with President Clinton. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with President Clinton. We have two more segments left and a great close tonight, one of his favorite groups the Harlem Boys Choir is going to close our show tonight.

CLINTON: Oh, great. I love those guys.

KING: On the Global Initiative, one of the concepts is enhancing governance. What does that mean?

CLINTON: It means that it's very hard to eliminate poverty in a poor country unless there is a certain level of honest governance and competent governance. There is going to be a lot of talk about corruption at this area, you know, people saying America and all other countries should pass laws making it illegal for -- like American business people, it already is illegal here, our laws could be a little stronger but basically illegal for American business people to offer a bribe to get a contract in a foreign country.

But the far bigger problem is the lack of confidence in organization and they feed off of each other. Like a lot of these countries become democracies, but they don't have any of the kind of organized civil servants that we take so for granted in America to get us our Social Security checks and make sure our air is clean and our water is safe to drink and our food is safe to eat, all those basic things.

So what I tried to do since I've heard people complain about this so much who wanted to invest money in other countries and help them grow their economy, is to say, let's quit complaining about it and talk about what we could do, we private citizens who are interested in doing public good, to improve governance in these countries so they can get more money there, they can get more investment, they can grow privately. That's what that's about. You can't really -- there's a limit to how much you can do without good government. There's a real limit to how much you can grow.

KING: And religion, conflict and reconciliation those three go hand-in-hand?

CLINTON: Well, I think so. We all know what the religious roots of conflicts today are in the Middle East. We all know about the Islamic militants who believe in terror, whether it's in London or New York or in the Middle East.

But the truth is that most religious leaders and most religious texts offer the promise of reconciliation based on our common humanity and our common imperfection and our common need for a god in this life and the next.

So, what I tried to do here was to say religion doesn't have to be a source of discord and can be a source of harmony. And the king of Jordan, King Abdullah had the heads of all the major sects in Islam to Jordan several months ago and they talked about that and they all agreed that there's no reasonable reason where the Koran would support terrorism and the killing of innocents.

The IRA recently agreed to get rid of all their weapons and to validate it to the Irish people they asked that the destruction be viewed and approved by the heads of both the Protestant and the Catholic Church in Ireland, which is really good.

I was just in Tanzania and we announced a new AIDS program and, you know, there's a lot of controversy about whether the Catholic Church or other religious organizations have policies that undermine the AIDS effort.

But in Tanzania, we had the heads of every major religious group, Christian, Muslim, and even local, the traditional African religions, all there together, all supporting the same policy. So religion can bring people together. It doesn't just have to be a source of division and I wanted it to be seen in the positive as well as the negative light.

In the Middle East, Dubai -- which you've probably been there, Dubai has only 7 percent of its income tied to oil. It's the fastest growing economy in the Middle East. If you go there, they're faithful to Islam. All the signs are in Arabic and English. If you go to a bank, you can borrow money from an Islamic system with no interest, where they take an ownership position, or you can borrow money from a Western position.

So, religion can be a force of reconciliation. That's the point I want to make. It doesn't have to be, even Islam, which many people in the West are afraid of now, I think it's wrong to see that religion -- to say religion's at the root of all this killing, I just don't believe it.

KING: We'll take a break, be back with our remaining moments with former President Clinton, in one of his highlight moments taking place this weekend. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with President Clinton, and then the Harlem Boys Choir and you will not want to leave before that.

How's your health?

CLINTON: Far as I know, it's fine.

KING: We're in the same club.

CLINTON: Yes, we are.

KING: You feel good?


KING: Do you get regular checkups?

CLINTON: I do and I do my, you know, I walk all the time. I try to stay fit, try to work out, watch what I eat.

KING: Feels good being trim, doesn't it?

CLINTON: Feels better, yes. I like it better.

KING: How's Chelsea?

CLINTON: She's great. She's good.

KING: Did she break off that relationship?

CLINTON: I don't talk about my daughter's life. You can talk to her about that. She's got a great life. And I'm really proud of her. She's working very hard, you know, she works for McKenzie (ph).

KING: Yes, I know.

CLINTON: Spent several months in England, working with the British Health Service, setting up some new hospitals they hope will get rid of backlogs and be more independent and effective.

KING: How old is she now?

CLINTON: Chelsea, 25.

KING: I remember her like -- watched a movie with her one time.

CLINTON: She grew up in no time. I'm really proud of her, yes. I think she's going to come to my conference and probably tell me where I'm all wrong.

KING: And how's -- now the senator's re-election, are you concerned?

CLINTON: Well I think any time you've got a campaign you have to be concerned but she's working hard. And we just went to the New York State Fair, a trip that I make with her every year, to Upstate New York to Syracuse.

And then we went all the way up to the Canadian border, the Thousand Island area, you know, the St. Lawrence Seaway. It's fascinating. And all that area's heavily Republican and she has enormous support up there because of the work she's done to try to help revive the economy and to support military installations there as a member of the Armed Services Committee, and because she's really paid more attention to them in a systematic way than anybody ever has. So I feel good about this but she just has to keep working at it.

KING: Is she going to say what -- what President Bush said when he ran for reelection as governor, "I will not guarantee four years because there is a possibility I might run for the presidency, and if you will vote against me for that, vote against me, but I'm telling you the truth."

CLINTON: Yes, I think she -- well what he said was he hadn't made that decision yet. KING: Right.

CLINTON: And wouldn't and people, the voters, could take that into account. And I think that's pretty much her position. I think that, you know, she can't make a decision on that now. She can't -- you certainly couldn't decide to do it now. I mean there would be too many factors unknown about what could happen between now and then.

And so I think that, you know, she's just focused on her reelection and she's telling the people of New York that and I think they understand that. I think her service will be ratified in this election because she's worked so hard and gotten so much done.

KING: I know you often think ahead. You must think of the possibility of being First Man, I mean, you must.

CLINTON: You know, you'd be surprised how little I think about it because -- and I'll tell you why, for two reasons. One is it requires an iron mental discipline to succeed in this business. And if you look past the next election, as I always say, you might not get past the next election.

So I don't want her to think about it and I can't think about it. I don't ever -- I don't want to talk to her about it. I don't, you know, I'm superstitious. I don't want to deal with it. I want her to bring her six years of service and her plans for continuing service in the Senate to the voters of New York. And I think the rest -- it's silly to do much else.

The second thing is I'm happy doing what I'm doing. I love what I'm doing. But, you know, if she ever did run and if she won I know she'd be great for America, and I'd do whatever she asked me to do.

I'd do -- if President Bush asked me to do something, if I can do it in good conscience, I'd do it. I believe that if the president of either party, if he asks you to do something, or she asks you to do something, if you can do it in good conscience, you should.

But I don't really think about it much yet. I want her to get re-elected. And I did that job a long time, that politics job. You got to have iron discipline. You got to think about what's before you.

KING: I know the late Claude Pepper told me once you should run every race as if you were way behind.

CLINTON: Absolutely. And you know, I've been in a lot of campaigns. I used to have to run every two years, remember. So I've had lots and lots of experience at this. There is no such thing as a campaign you can't lose. And very few you can't win.

KING: Thank you.

CLINTON: Thank you. Bless you.

KING: Former President Clinton; when we come back the Harlem Boys Choir.


KING: Stay tuned for Aaron Brown and Anderson Cooper and their two-hour special immediately following.

Right now to close it out music from the remarkable and Grammy- winning Boys Choir of Harlem, their song is United we Stand. It was written shortly after the 9/11 attacks by a choir alumni, R. Roger Holland (ph). Here's the Boys Choir of Harlem, Bill's home, singing United we Stand.