Former President Bill Clinton, who prodded President Obama last month to keep his promises on Obamacare, said Tuesday that the political damage for Democrats from the flawed law will be “minimal.”
“I believe that if the computer problems are all fixed, and it’s up and running by — and healthy in the next several weeks, I think that the damage will be minimal,” Mr. Clinton told interviewer Jorge Ramos of Fusion. “It’s getting better. I think it’ll be fixed by — in the next few weeks. If it’s worked through, I think within four or five months people will be talking about something entirely differently.”
Mr. Clinton last month urged the president to make good on his promise that Americans could keep their health-care plans if they liked them. Within days, Mr. Obama offered a solution that allows many consumers whose policies were being canceled to keep their current health-care plan for one year.
Mr. Clinton said he doesn’t want credit for the proposal.
“No, no. I waited for him to say that he felt badly about it,” Mr. Clinton said. “But the truth is the law that he signed did grandfather in the policies that were in existence when he signed the law. And the insurance industry gets rid of these individual policies all the time. So I think he’s trying to go beyond what he pledged to do.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Mr. Ramos asked the former president whether Hillary Rodham Clinton would have done a better job on comprehensive immigration reform than Mr. Obama. During their 2008 presidential primary, Mr. Obama pledged to get such legislation approved within his first year in office, while Mrs. Clinton promised to get it done within her first 100 days as president.
“It’s not fruitful to go back over that ground,” Mr. Clinton said. “I think that we’re trying to pass immigration reform. The country needs it. [Mr. Obama] hasn’t dishonored his promise on immigration reform. He’s not a dictator. He said he’d try to pass it, and the Congress hadn’t passed it.”
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Mr. Clinton said he doesn’t know whether his wife will run for president in 2016.
“She’s trying to finish her book,” he said. “And she believes and I believe that the four-year campaign mania is a big mistake. This country has serious problems. Our region, and our world has a serious problem. We should work on the business at hand. And you know, we’ll have one or two years to conduct a presidential campaign…We have newspapers that have people devoted to doing nothing but covering a campaign that doesn’t exist. The American people have economic and other challenges. And our region and world have challenges. We should be focused on those things. And that’s what Hillary thinks too.”
Mr. Clinton said the revelations about Nation Security Agency spying have had “a damaging effect” on the U.S.
“I do think that the stories about the data collection has had a damaging affect. And not just in Latin America, but in Europe and Asia,” he said. Asked whether his administration had engaged in similar surveillance, Mr. Clinton said, “It depended on who they were. You know, if we thought they were engaged in hostile acts against the United States … then they might do it.”
On drugs, Mr. Clinton expanded a bit on his infamous campaign comment that he “didn’t inhale” when he tried marijuana in his younger days.
“That whole thing has been totally twisted to try to make something untrue,” Mr. Clinton said. “I was sort of joking about something [that] had to be true. I didn’t say I was holding it in now. I said, ‘I tried.’ I didn’t deny that I did any thing. I never denied that I used marijuana. I told the truth. I thought it was funny.”