Bill Clinton on Monday tried to explain away his wife Hillary Clinton’s swirling negatives with a mix of suggestions that voters are sexist and complaints about a “toxic atmosphere” caused, in part, by Republican Donald Trump.
In an hourlong interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, the former president said Hillary Clinton might be winning the 2016 race by a wider margin if only people were not so anxious about economic upheaval and leery of handing one party three consecutive terms in the White House.
“You gotta understand, a lot of this is cultural. She’s the first woman candidate for major office.”
“You gotta understand, a lot of this is cultural,” he said. “She’s the first woman candidate for major office. She’s trying to get the third term. A party trying to win a third term in a row is difficult.”
Bill Clinton said his wife finds it “very hard to be the grown-up in every room.” That is doubly so, he said, because Trump exploits people’s fears with demagoguery.
“He makes them dislike other people and says, ‘I’ll fix it all and make it the way it used to be,’” he said.
Clinton said his wife is popular among people who know her and would be better liked by voters if only they could become more acquainted with her detailed plans for improving America.
"If it were up to her, she’s just go give a speech every day about what she wants to do," he said.
Of course, Hillary Clinton is free to do just that if she truly wants to. No one is forcing her to run a campaign focused almost entirely on convincing Americans that Trump is unfit for the Oval Office.
Defends Clinton Foundation
In the wide-ranging interview, Clinton insisted the Clinton Foundation is the most open in history.
"We have been as transparent as we can be, and we have been more transparent than any other foundation, more transparent than any other foundation has asked been asked to be," he said. "And certainly more transparent than anybody else in this line of work is."
Clinton said the charity has helped 430 million in 90 countries. Independent ratings organizations give the charity high marks for performance, but it has not always abided by the transparency commitments it made.
According to The Washington Post, for instance, the government of Algeria donated $500,000 to the foundation in 2010. Yet, the foundation did not report it until 2015 and did not notify the State Department.
The foundation also did not report contributions from 1,000 donors who gave the money through a sister Canadian foundation. The Clinton Foundation reported the contribution from its Canadian counterpart but not the original donors, according to Bloomberg News.
What’s more, Hillary Clinton appears not to have lived up to promises she made when she signed an ethics agreement with the Obama administration upon taking office in the State Department. She agreed to maintain distance from the foundation while she served as America’s top diplomat.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch and other organizations through Freedom of Information Act requests, however, show many instances in which the foundation asked for favors and meetings on behalf of donors. Clinton did, in fact, agree to some of those meetings. In one example, the crown prince of Bahrain got a private meeting by going through the foundation after he hit a dead end through official channels.
The Associated Press reported last month that more than half of the people not connected with the government who met with Clinton when she was secretary of state were foundation donors.
Bill Clinton reiterated his vow to step down from the foundation board if his wife wins in November. He also said the foundation would not accept donations from foreign or corporate sources. But he said his wife did nothing illegal or unethical in connection with the charity.
"I have said that to the best of my knowledge, nobody ever got anything from the State Department because they supported the Clinton Foundation," he told Rose. "If they did and it was inappropriate, I would say that’s wrong, too. I have proved that I’m not adverse to apologizing for things that I think were wrong."
That’s ‘The Way the National Government Works’
Clinton downplayed the significance of meetings between his wife and foundation donors.
"Now, if you think nobody should ever call somebody they know and say, ‘Well, so-and-so would like a meeting’ — that is the way the national government works," he said.
Clinton also tried to put to rest concerns that his wife has serious health issues after she fainted on Sunday as she was making an early exit from a 9/11 memorial service.
"She’s doing fine," he told Rose. "She was even better last night before she went to sleep. She had a good night’s sleep. She’s doing fine."
Clinton said his wife canceled a campaign trip Monday to recover from pneumonia. He said dehydration sparked Sunday’s episode.
"Rarely, but on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing’s happened to her when she got severely dehydrated," he said. "And she’s worked like a demon, as you know, as secretary of state, and as a senator, and in the years since."
Clinton said he has encouraged his wife to release more medical records and said he believes the campaign will do that. Asked why it has not already, he said, "I don’t know the answer to that."
Clinton said his wife’s opponents "think everything is a campaign issue" and then tried to make it a campaign issue against Trump. Based on Hillary’s exercise regimen and lifestyle, he said, he is "almost certain she’s in better health than her opponent, but we don’t know because he hasn’t disclosed."
Last Modified: September 13, 2016, 4:44 pm