Continuing outcry by "birthers" -- a small but vocal movement which questions whether President Barack Obama was actually born on U.S. soil -- could possibly end up hurting the Republican party, former President Bill Clinton said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.
A recent poll indicates that 51 percent of Republicans who will vote in the 2012 presidential elections don't believe Obama was born in the United States. Obama -- who is expected to announce his re-election campaign today -- so far has done little to fight back against the erroneous claims, but Clinton thinks that will change.
"I think he will fight back," the former president said, "but I think one of the elementary rules of combat is you don't want to get in your opponent's way if he's shooting himself in the foot ...."
He pointed out that "a very different America" tended to show up to a presidential election than to a Congressional one.
"The economy will be better," he said, speaking of the next presidential election. "If I were them, I'd be really careful riding that birther horse too much. Everyone knows it's ludicrous."
The former president was speaking in an exclusive interview to Weekend "Good Morning America" anchor Bianna Golodryga Sunday in San Diego. The interview touched on the U.S. economy, obesity and the civil war in Libya.
Clinton said he believed the U.S. should consider arming the rebels who were fighting against Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
"I think that for the United States to be on the side of this freedom movement without implying that we have either interest or the capacity to send armed forces on the ground and to do everything is a good thing," Clinton said.
Speaking about what the scope of the U.S.'s role should be regarding intervention in Libya -- given that it gets relatively little oil from that country compared with some European nations which get far more, Clinton said he took "a broader view" of America's national interests.
"I think we're trying to build a world in which people resolve their differences in non-violent ways," he said. "And we're trying to build a world where no ruler can cavalierly kill its unarmed civilians."
The uprising in Libya started in February during a wave of social and political unrest in the Middle East. Fighting has escalated in key cities all across the country, but the rebels have found themselves outgunned by Gadhafi's forces, which are better equipped. Gadhafi's troops have been brutal.
Last month the United Nations authorized no-fly zone over the North African nation to prevent further attacks on civilians from Gadhafi's troops in the air.
The U.S. backed the no-fly zone and also offered the rebels support, but key U.S. lawmakers and top officials in the Obama government are not comfortable with arming the rebels apparently because not enough is known about them.
Clinton, whose wife, Hillary, the U.S. Secretary of State, stressed the he was speaking without "any official sanction" whatsoever.
Former presidents can get security briefings, but since his wife took office, he said he now goes out of his way not to get them.