January 17th, 2010
04:18 PM ET
5 years ago

Clinton, George W. Bush reflect on life after the White House

In an interview with CNN, Former President Clinton said he doesn't think you should gratuitously give advice as an ex-president.  Former President George W. Bush said he doesn't miss the limelight.
In an interview with CNN, Former President Clinton said he doesn't think you should gratuitously give advice as an ex-president. Former President George W. Bush said he doesn't miss the limelight.

Washington (CNN) – Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush say they’re in no hurry to give President Obama any advice, notwithstanding all of the challenges and crises Obama’s administration has faced.

“I think once you’ve been president you shouldn’t gratuitously offer any advice to your successor,” said former President Clinton in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “If somebody asked you what you think, you tell them. Otherwise, you just show up when you’re asked to help,” Clinton also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

“It was good to walk back through here,” former President George W. Bush said of his first visit to the White House since President Obama was inaugurated nearly a year ago.

Sitting in a relaxed and comfortable manner after meeting with Clinton and Obama to discuss relief for Haiti, Bush told King, “I frankly don’t miss the limelight. I’m glad to help out, but there’s life after the presidency is what I’ve learned, and I’m going to live it to the fullest, and this is part of living it to the fullest, to help other people.”

Clinton also said that he thought the new administration had handled the situation in Haiti well.

“Look, we had the greatest honor the American people can give, and I think both of us feel a sense of profound gratitude,” Clinton told King. “But President Obama is a, is a gifted man with good people working for him. He’s working hard. And I – you know, I wish him well. Obviously I support him, and I think he had extraordinary taste in his Secretary of State,” Clinton said, eliciting a chuckle from Bush.

“It’s not our role,” Clinton also told King. Obama’s “got a hard enough job without everybody else trying to, you know, give him advice. And I will say this, and I think George agrees with me. [Obama] has been great on this [Haitian relief effort].”

The two former presidents visited the White House Saturday to formally announce their joint effort to spearhead private fundraising for Haitian relief. They sat down for their candid interview with King after joining Obama for the announcement in the White House Rose Garden.

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Very civil words from each of these men. Unlike others, they are smart not to tender advice to a sitting President – they've been in the hot seat and understand that everyone...everyone...has advice to give; until they themselves are in the hot seat. They realize that solutions are not simply "common sense" and that it's too easy to play Monday morning quarterback along with the masses who feel they can always do a better job.

    Impressed with these two and how they handle themselves now.

    January 17, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Razorback

    I also think the Obama administration is doing a good job with the relief effort. And I am embarassed by some of my fellow conservatives trying to make it political, just as I was disgusted by liberals' making natural disasters political when the previous administration was in office.

    January 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Ricardo

    Bush is still the stupid and mentally sick person he ha always been.The politicians like to say that this is a country of laws. If this were true, Bush, Cheney and Dumsfeld would be in jail as war criminals.With the participation of Bush the mission in Haiti is doomed to failure. How could a man who doesn't have the capacity to study his own language become the president of this country?

    January 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. billy123

    I think all they stated is correct.

    The only issue is will President Obama use this same ergency to get people back to work in this country.

    There are so many people out of work in this country. I suggest to all elected leaders go by each state unemployment office and see for yourself.

    January 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Squigman

    How about the nation. The nation fared very differrently after Mr. Clinton, left office. Bush ruined the nations economy, and did so in 8 short years. Of course this wont get past the editor. The truth is a very strong trait. The news media, wants to sugar coat every short coming of the republican party. After all, the news media is BIG BUSINESS.

    January 17, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. seabee

    President George "W" Bush was and based on his continued comments still is an embarrassment to the United States . I hope he enjoys his retirement enjoying the blood money he took from the taxpayers! CB

    January 17, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. jules sand-perkins

    These are two good men.
    Each did the best job he could during his presidency.
    Instead of focusing on finding faults in either one, we might do best to be grateful that they are working together without rancor toward fine goals.

    January 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  8. Steve in Sunny Florida

    It's great to see various leaders like Bush/Clinton team up even though they come from different political viewpoints. I think most Americans should note how they can team up and work together. When I read the Ticker all I read are very judgmental comments pointing fingers and throwing blame – no matter what political affliation – it comes from all sides. I think Bush and Clinton are setting a fine example for us Americans by demonstrating how they can work together to reach a goal.

    January 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Keith in Austin

    Good work from BOTH of our prior Presidents. It's nice to see a Republican and Democrat working TOGETHER for a change!

    January 17, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. GeorgeVT

    Although I never like President Bush's policies, I never thought he was a bad man and I think over time I will begin to like him more (though I will never agree with his policies or doctrines).

    January 17, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Azarre F

    More than $3 billion have been spent in haiti after the chute of Duvalier. Haiti becomes poor and porrest because :
    1rst- A small group around the government take the money to save in foreign banks, buy expensive houses and cars in USA.

    2nd- A small group around the government split the money between them in power, have 3 or more girl friends to buy house for, cars for and even pay morgage every month in USA.

    3rd- The ONG waste the money like crazy: hotels, beaches, travels girls friends while american people work their ass out ( excuse-me the expression).
    If you have never worked for an "Organisation Non-Governmental" You won't understand what I am saying.
    Haiti is what they call a: milk-cow, a source of corruption.
    Preval told the people :SWIM TO SAVE YOURSELF. That means beef up your porkets.

    January 17, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. CTGIRL

    This is a wonderful thing. I gave to their fund because I trust that my money will get to where it needs to.

    January 17, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  13. Milton Jackson

    I'd wish our congressmen and women would take a cue from this moment to work together to help people on health care! If our last two Presidents who are pretty much complete opposites of each other can come together around a common cause, why can't our CURRENT elected officials? Stopthe squabbling and get it done!

    And, please, do whatever you can to help the nation of Haiti during this time: donations of any kind or size is greatly appeciated. No donation is too small!

    January 17, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Maybe if Obama would just resign, he could start living life to the fullest too.

    January 17, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. guest55

    as much as I am repulsed by Bush, it was good to see the three of them working together to help Haiti.

    January 17, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Independent

    God Bless the Haiti People

    January 17, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Rick

    God bless President Bush! So good to see him back in the White House. I sure wish he was staying and Obama was going to Haiti instead. Haiti needs some of the good ole "hope" and "change," so we should do the right thing and let them have Obama as their president.

    January 17, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. JMH

    Though I am no fan of President Obama, I believe that Bush and Clinton are doing an admirable job of largely avoioding entering the political fray in their post-presidencies. It's a shame Jimmy Carter hasn't been able to do that...

    January 17, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. JMH

    Though I am no fan of President Obama, I believe that Bush and Clinton are doing an admirable job of largely avoiding entering the political fray in their post-presidencies. It's a shame Jimmy Carter hasn't been able to do that...

    January 17, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Irma

    Clinton and his foundation are doing a lot of good and worthy things for the world's needy, he was a great president, except for some of his indiscretions. As for Bush it really was a mistake that he was pushed by his party to run for the office, he was well out of his element, all he really wanted was to be out of the limelight, ride his dirt bike and get rid of brush on his so called 'ranch, he was a misplaced Texan as well as a poorworld leader, he should have had his wish, there was no need for a Bush Dynesty. He can now finally do a bit of good for Haiti after doing so much harm in Iraq, and failing so badly during Katrina..

    January 17, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. the cause endures...

    Thank you, President Clinton, for your tireless humanitarian efforts. You are truly a great man.

    God Bless you.

    January 17, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  22. David J

    It shouldn't be lost on the American public that the solid week which has passed since the earthquake hit Haiti and this joint announcement is about as long as it took President George W. Bush to come back from vacation, and offer assistance after Katrina devastated New Orleans right here in the U.S.

    It's great to see Bush finally showing concern for others- yet now that he is no longer in office it is too little, too late.

    January 17, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. jr

    Bush is still an idiot. Thank God for Obama!

    January 17, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. teacher

    Finally we are going to get a Republican and a Democrat working together. If the men who held the highest office in the land can work together, why can't Congress do what they were elected to do – work together for the common good of ALL and quit all this stupid fighting and slamming each other's party. Do what you were paid to do. If you didn't contribute to drafting a health care plan, you have no right to complain.

    January 17, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. monica cadigan

    Although there were things that bothered me, about the Bush Presidentsy, I dont care how much people down him, I like him. As mean as everyone tried to make him, I focus on the gentleness and decencantsy of his stance on babies, for example. I feel for him. There could be things said about Obama, that could be looked at as cruel. At the Banquet Dinner, in the beginning, there were cruel words spoken about Sarah Palin's daughter, that where totally uncalled for. I never witnessed anything like that in the Bush Presidntsy. So, it goes both ways. So Democrats, pipe down and get off the high fence, your on, and get real. I for one, will welcome him.

    January 17, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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