December 3rd, 2008
08:51 AM ET
10 years ago

Bill Clinton says he'd consider role in Obama administration

 The former President has pledged to release a list of donors.

The former President has pledged to release a list of donors.

HONG KONG, China (CNN) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Wednesday he will have "very little" to do with the decisions his wife Hillary will face as secretary of state in the incoming Obama administration.

"I'll just try to be a helpful sounding board to her, but I don't think I'll do any more than that," Clinton told CNN during a trip to Hong Kong.

President-elect Barack Obama announced Monday that Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York and former first lady, was his choice for secretary of state. Bill Clinton said he and his wife have always talked "about everything," and he called her advice "invaluable" throughout his career.

"I really care about all these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing," he said. "But the decisions will have to be ultimately the President-elect Obama's decisions to make about what we are going to do, what our policies are going to be."

Clinton said his wife learned she was being considered for the Cabinet post by reading it in the newspaper. He said he would remain in the background unless Obama "asks me to do something specific, which I'm neither looking for nor closed to."

"I think she made the right decision, but for her it was hard. She adored being in the Senate," he said.

Clinton was in Hong Kong to open a meeting of his Clinton Global Initiative, the non-profit foundation he started after leaving office. The organization, which is aimed at tackling international problems such as worldwide poverty and disease prevention, came under scrutiny while his wife was being vetted for the job.

Clinton said he has agreed to disclose his donors in order to eliminate concerns that supporters were trying to influence U.S. international policy, a move he called "over and above what the law requires."

"If she is going to be secretary of state and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally, I think that its important to make it totally transparent," he said.

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. Meh

    Linda> People who would vote for Palin "have [their] wits about [them]? Funny!

    December 3, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Michael watching from Canada

    Hillary has demonstrated that she has the strength of character to perform her duties as SoS without Bill, but has the wisdom to draw on his experience when needed.

    It continues to amaze me how some people prejudge others BEFORE they start their jobs!

    December 3, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Jennifer

    I am a Clinton supporter through and through. Hillary Clinton is an inspiration, a positive female role model for my daughters, which there are so few of today. Her role as Secretary of State, combined with the best of the best elected officials appointed by president elect Obama will truly be something for the history books. Let's see if they can make America shine once again.

    December 3, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. kimber grace

    I think Sen. Clinton will do a spectacular job-she is a brilliant person. Although I did not vote for him, I will commend Pres.elect Obama on this pick, as well as his pick of Gen. Jones. I will always be a huge fan of Sen. McCain, but Obama is slowly gaining my confidence.

    December 3, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. xcusme

    One Bush was too many. For those who do not see change. Look again. The change is Obama not the cabinet. As he stated "the buck stops here" I sure he will not let Hillary or anyone else run over him. He is a very intelligent man. There is a reason for everything he does. He won that took smarts. Everyone underestimated him.

    December 3, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Change_Has_Begun

    Bill Clinton knows how to lead and he can provide Obama support on critical decisions concerning the economy and international affairs.


    December 3, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. NY

    My has nothing to do with personality, who's who, Big Dog's, nothing...I think they and we all know this is all about the insurmountable job of repairing an almost irreparably damaged economy and reputation. US (citizens) and the US government and everyone in-between seem to be on board this time. I heard a saying once and loved it, "WERE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT, LETS KEEP IT AFLOAT” So be quiet unless you have something constructive to say that you have done for this country. Stop whining about who & what and just help!

    December 3, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Tiff of lithia springs

    Amen to that Barbara.

    December 3, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. The Rector

    it looks to me like Obama didn't expect to be pres. so he didn't have anyone in mind to fill the cabinet. If this is what he calls change, then he should check websters. While some of these appointments are ok, this is not what Obama supporters signed up for. You remember the everyman image he so carefuly portraied, well I know alot of people, and none of them spend $60,000.00 a year to send their kids to grade school, sound sort of eliteist to me.

    December 3, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. JJ in NY

    Oh sure........... just like he didn't INHALE !

    December 3, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. Brain in DC

    Thanks, Bill. Your days are a sweet dream compared with what we are into right now.

    I think best choice for Bill is to keep him active with small tactical missions. He's a smart and energetic talent to leave idle. He's especially very knowledgeable on world affairs. However, it is not suitable to put him in a government position, rather a bunch of tactical missions (peace, envoy, ...).

    December 3, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  12. Paul

    Bill talks "about everything" with Hillary–depending on what your definition of "everything" is.

    December 3, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Laura, Boston

    I would love to see former President Clinton as Senator but I know that won't!.....I would love to see him as part of the economic team! He did so much in the 90's to create jobs and balance the budget. I know that will probably not happen in this time but I would like to see at least an attempt made so my grandchildren don't get stuck with the debt incurred during my days on this planet!

    December 3, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  14. Michael, Houston Texas

    I don't know why you Dems are being so hard on the Clintons. Let's see, budget surplus, lead one of the most prosperous periods in American History, attempted to provide healthcare for all Americans, and I could go on. Now I am not a fan of either Bill's or Hillary's personality but I dont put my confidence in my leadership basedon if they have a good personality or not, I follow them because I believe that they can put policies in place to make my life better. Now I understand the Repubs beef, you people hate the Clintons because of the reasons mentioned. I'd say give Hillary a chance to do the jib first, if she screws up, then talk smack about her. Just like with President Obama (wow I love the way that comes of my fingers), let's see what he does before we start to grade him.

    December 3, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. janis - Missouri

    Obama has earned my respect. His cabinet choices, including Hillary ,are wise and shows he can put petty differences aside to the good of the country.

    December 3, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. The Rector

    ...."he won that took smarts"...

    No that took money, lots and lots of money. Money from poor people who are going to continue to get screwed, as ever, in our corporate autocracy. He has already said he would bail detroit out and he voted to give wall st. all the money they need to continue living like kings while the rest of us scrape a living out of the garbage dump that is our national economy. Wake up people "they" are never going to give you anything, and Obama is "their" flavor of the month.

    December 3, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. Dave

    To Change_Has_ Begun. The national debt was never eliminated! Deficit spending was eliminated because the Republicans took over congress and Clinton was dragged kicking and screaming all the way! You Liberals do what you do best........... revise history!!!!!

    December 3, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Susan

    Things were better in our country when Bill Clinton was President. It appears many have forgot about that.

    December 3, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Lauren the Designer

    This isn't really news...he said the same thing that I think any open-minded politician who cares about the state of their country would say. Love him or hate him, President Clinton has a favorable political track record and I would hope that he would want to help if he were asked.

    Make all the "intern" jokes you want...the US was in a good place when he was in office. I don't take personal lives into account if someone can prove to be a solid leader. (Although I do think it's funny that some Republicans will crow about his infidelities and call him a pig all day long, but then worship at the alter of McCain after what he did to his first wife. People are SO hypocritical.)

    December 3, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. Larry C. Houston, Texas

    I think he should take his wife's place in the Senate.
    He knows his way around, and can get things done.

    Houston TEXAS

    December 3, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. prophet

    Heed my warnings! Beware of the "Razorbacks", the givers of NAFTA.

    December 3, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. KJL

    Bill Clinton's idea of "the background" is probably a little different from yours and mine. His comes with klieg lights and a microphone.

    December 3, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. dick kessler

    With Gen. Jones out of the Middle East and after Israeli elections are over, if I were Obama I might very well give Bill Clinton and Tony Blair (who is still a Middle East facilitator) stronger roles in bringing about quiet negotiations between the new Israeli and Palestinian governments, quietly and with Obama's oversight through Jones and Clinton (the Secretary of State) no freelancing

    December 3, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  24. Chris

    Get over it, repubs. We had to put up with Condy Rice, and I can't see ANYTHING she's done to help America promote peace overseas. She's kind of oomph! (although QEII thought she played great piano!)

    December 3, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |

    We are Americans.We all need to do our shares to help our economy.
    We need to reduce oil energy consumption by investing mor alternative clean air energy.
    We are working to design and manufacture our wind power electricity system for our city.

    December 3, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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