June 7th, 2012
04:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton: 'I'm very sorry'

(CNN) - Bill Clinton regrets the swirl over comments he made earlier in the week in which he appeared to suggest he would be open to extending the so-called Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the former president said Thursday.

"I'm very sorry about what happened," Clinton said in an interview to air on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "I thought something had to be done on the 'fiscal cliff' before the election. Apparently nothing has to be done until the first of the year."

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Republicans seized on Clinton's remarks this week when he said lawmakers will likely put off a series of major spending and budget decisions. They argued the former president was siding with many in the GOP who call for the extension of the controversial tax cuts largely opposed by Democrats.

"[Congress] will probably have to put everything off until early next year," Clinton said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC. "That's probably the best thing to do right now."

The "fiscal cliff" consists of measures set to begin in January that would remove more than $500 billion out of the economy in 2013 alone. Those measures include the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and protection of the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax, the onset of $1 trillion in blunt spending cuts, and a reduction in Medicare doctors' pay.

On Thursday, however, Clinton argued that he, in fact, supported President Barack Obama's position, which calls for an end to the tax cuts only for those making $250,000 or more.

The former president emphasized he was mistaken about the timing of the fiscal cliff when he made his comments, thinking it would happen before the November election, rather than at the beginning of next year.

"I really was under the impression that they would have to do something before the election, and I was trying to figure out how they would kick it to last (through) the election," he said.

He continued: "Once I realized that nothing had to be done until the first of the year, I supported (Obama's) position. I supported extending them last year, but I think his position is the right one and necessary for working out a comprehensive (deficit reduction) deal."

The comments marked the second time Republicans pounced on Clinton in a week, trying to use his own words against Obama.

The former president last week complimented Mitt Romney's private equity career in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," which raised eyebrows among Democrats who have been using Romney's corporate history as an attack against the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Last week, Clinton described Romney as a successful businessman and nodded to his "sterling" career.

Clarifying his remarks Thursday, Clinton said that just because he thinks Romney did well in the private sector doesn't mean he deserves to be elected president.

"You can be successful in business...if your shareholders do well," he said. "You can only be successful as president if the shareholders, the employees, the customers, and the communities do well–all of the constituencies of American market economics."

While Clinton has attended several top fundraisers for Obama this cycle, some critics argue Clinton's recent slip-ups are attempts to undermine the current president. Asked about his relationship with Obama, Clinton did not directly comment on his personal views of the president but pointed to his record of campaigning for him, instead.

"Look in 2008, when he ran for president and defeated Hillary in the primaries, I did 40 events for him. 40 in the election," he said.

He then said he repeatedly argues the president has "done a good job, a really good job under very trying circumstances" and stressed that he is "strongly committed" to Obama's re-election.

Thursday's interview came the same day a new CNN/ORC International poll indicated 66% of Americans hold a favorable view of Clinton, while 31% give him an unfavorable rating.

The former two-term Democratic president's favorable rating bottomed out in CNN polling at 51% in June of 2008, after Clinton took a very active role in advocating for his wife in her historic battle with Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

- Watch the full interview at 5 p.m. ET on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

- CNNMoney's Charles Riley contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney reacts to Wisconsin recall vote

Texas a cash cow for Romney

Jill Biden weighs into 2016

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton • President Obama • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Glenn

    I didn't realize Clinton was familiar with the word "Sorry", pretty sure he never used it when he got busted for lying to the entire country about his Lewinsky affair...

    June 7, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. denroy

    So another Democrat has to be 're-educated' by the Obama machine – reminds me of China

    June 7, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. jp

    Willie need to stick to what he knows best..Cigars and getting bj from a fat chicks

    June 7, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Madrep

    Taxes will now go up for everyone but the rich....again! The tax cuts need modified but not dropped all together. The middle class will get screwed on this one wait and see. This is not the right decision. The AMT was passed to tax the rich in 99 and now look where it's gotten us...it has to be re-passed year to year to keep hurting main street. Rich get richer and that's the way it is. Obama is too busy going to 1%er fundraisers with his Cali buddies to worry about this little issue. They all preach the talk...but do something completely different. If Obama were so against the rich, why does he cater to them so much; i.e. Wall Street, Oil, etc...wake up people. He is about Obama, not the American public.

    June 7, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. Carole

    Sorry about the mis-spelled word I meant "by" he other two Dems......

    CNN please add a spell/grammar check feature, Thanks

    June 7, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. Big Al

    Wow, Hillbilly Bill coming across as clueless.......THERE'S a shocker!

    June 7, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. NameMr

    Obama is a failure n even Clinton can't fix that. Ha Hillary been elected we would not be in this mess. Hilary in 2012

    June 7, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. Romney 2012 ! ! ! ! !

    Romney to Obama.... You're fired !

    June 7, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. Romney 2012 ! ! ! ! !

    Duh. Clinton was a moderate, not a leftist socialist like Barack.

    June 7, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. larryt

    That's the problem- nothing ever has to be done until the first of the year, and then the first of the year after next, and then the first of the year after the year after next.

    June 7, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Thomas

    face it liberals, the democratic party is in shambles. you've lost your way completely. your leaders are far-left radicals. no one is america is interested anymore. not even willy can save you.

    You need to look in the mirror , 8 years of GW Bush ! Thanks for the mess !
    How much will you guys spend to torch it all over again ?

    I almost hope Romney dose win , the suffering wasn't enough after the GW Bush years. Unfortunately maybe you guys need to burn it to the ground before you have to change.

    June 7, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. Toughlove

    Wowwwwwww......this is embarrassing. I'd feel bad for the Left if I wasn't a conservative.

    June 7, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. Rosslaw

    Just to cut through the clutter, the Bush tax cuts in the middle of two wars betrayed our military, sent a clear message to Al Queda that the US had no stomach for engaging as a nation in war, exploded the deficit and did nothing, absolutely nothing, for the economy-unless you count the weakest economy since WWII as an achievement. What Clinton says or doesn't say could not be less relevant to that dreaded "R" word-reality.

    June 7, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  14. TDiddy

    everybody hates obama

    June 7, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. yukphu

    Please don't blame REP for not talking across the isle. the DEMS rammed healthcare down everyone's throat and did not so much as ask for GOP input. Why, because they did not need the GOP. Now that it take BI-partisan support to pass bills, Dems are complaining about lack of civility and partisan politics. DEMS are the ones who made this divide even deeper with their actions in 08' & 09'.

    June 7, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. John Deatherage

    Oops! Bill spoke his mind. The DNC said, "hey, that's not story we want told." And Bill, said "my bad!" That's not what I meant. Didn't say it, I wasn't there. Hey, who's that pretty girl?

    June 7, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Blindersoff

    Yukphu, because of your hatred for our president, you would believe anything that would appear to undermined and discredit president Obama. Clinton has always been a lier and a sleaz-bag of politician. He has always been one step ahead of the republican party on going attempt to bring him down. And now, we find him, playing the divil's advocate. Deep down, he do not want this president to out due him. Sad but true. So eat it.

    June 7, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Mr Bilek

    Bill continues to have a pathological need for attention. Since Hillary or Barack won't do it, please help him by ignoring him until further notice.

    Save Bill from himself (and the USA, too).

    June 7, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  19. Chris Honry

    BEST FOR WHO? Best for politicians hoping to get re elected, not men enough to make the tough decisions like Scott Walker did.

    June 7, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. joe

    Untill everyone gets their heads out of their rearend and begin to realiize that we can not continue down the same road and drastic auterity measures are needed to turn this country around to include Social Securty, social programs, medi-care and a bloated goverment cut back nothing will change -–AMERICA DOES NOT HAVE A TAX PROBLEM WE HAVE A SPEND PROBLEM!!!! too much government dependency. These politicians need to quit buying dependent votes with the hard earned money of a diminishing working force. We need a change of leadership now before it is too late.

    June 7, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. GOP = Greed Over People

    The 49% that pay no income taxes are called the "working poor" for a reason.

    Make them pay taxes takes away more from the below poverty wages they make and then they end up on welfare.

    But then 60% of the GOP does not think we should take care of those that cannot take care of themselves.

    How "chri$tian".

    June 7, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. harrisonhits2

    "[Congress] will probably have to put everything off until early next year," Clinton said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC. "That's probably the best thing to do right now."

    Really ? Do NOTHING ? Just sit back and let the situation keep deteriorating for their own political gain ? Really ?

    Just shows that every member of congress commits treason on a daily basis taking bribes from the corporations, and then putting the corps and the members of congress own political future ahead of the country and its people.

    Both parties are utterly and hopelessly corrupt. Neither is the answer.

    June 7, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. NameFrank Deery

    When is he Finally going to GO AWAY???

    June 7, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Lew

    Dumb Republicans can't make logical or forward-thinking thoughts, while smart Republicans love this fact and spin the truth in their constant pursuit of money. Extreme liberals are scary too, but only the FAR left is scary.

    June 7, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. p

    The right is grasping at straws, if they're trying to to pretend Bill Clinton gives them even a shred of support or validation. You guys gotta be joking. All Romneys staff are the old guard GW Bushies. GOP has again nominated a guy with not much upstairs. Just the way they like it. We, as a nation, would have to be plum crazy to choose to going back to letting those clowns/thieves run our country again. We tried that and it sucked. Trying to use Bill Clinton's words only shows how desperate the right is.

    June 7, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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