Bill Clinton on Rush Limbaugh, His Own Mistakes, the Supreme Court, Middle East Peace

Bill Clinton's Supreme Court Nominee Advice: Robe Not Required

Clinton said a robe isn't necessarily a requirement for being nominated to the Supreme Court.

Asked about his advice for President Obama as he selects a nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice, Clinton said he hopes the president will "take a look at somebody who hasn't been a judge."

"The important thing," Clinton said, "is that you think they're smart and they're competent and they understand the lives of ordinary people."

When asked if he or his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would be suited for the job, Clinton said at 63, he's too old and, "I'd like to see him put someone in their late 40s, early 50s on the court and someone with a lot of energy for the job."

Hillary Clinton, he said, would have the same advice.

Diversity, he suggested, should also be a consideration.

"My advice to him would be to first of all see what the court is missing," Clinton said. "Does it matter if he puts a Catholic or a Jewish person or someone of another faith on a court? ... There would be no Protestants on the Supreme Court. Does that matter? Does there need to be another woman on the court? Should there be some other group represented?"

Ecstatic Over Health Care Passage: Felt Like Teddy Roosevelt

On the recent health care reform bill, Clinton said he felt like "Teddy Roosevelt would have felt if he'd still been alive in the 1930s seeing his cousin Franklin being able to sign legislation in areas that he had advocated."

Clinton was thrilled that it passed and that he and Hillary Clinton personally lobbied for passage before the final vote on the bill.

"She and I were ecstatic," he said.

Clinton expects more changes in the bill.

"They'll have to keep working on it and putting more cost drivers in it to take the cost down," he said. "But it's a big, big step. And it's a wonderful thing for the country."

Midterm Elections: Another 1994?

Clinton said the current political environment reminds him "a little bit" of 1994, a year in which Democrats lost majorities in both houses of Congress in a Republican landslide.

"I think that the dissent is just as intense, if not more intense," he said. "But I think the outcome of the election is likely to be far less dramatic than it was in '94."

Clinton expects Republicans to make some gains, but "I don't think they'll win either house."

Back in 1994, congressional Democrats put their jobs on the line to vote for President Clinton's economic package. The recent health care vote, he said, was similar, but the country is different now.

"We are culturally a different country," he said. "We are more diverse. We're more communitarian. That is, we understand we have to solve a lot of these problems together."

Middle East Peace Process

Clinton said he was reluctant to offer public advice to President Obama regarding the Middle East peace process, so as not to foreclose his options.

But he added, "We need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations."

If President Obama puts a peace plan on the table, Clinton said he will "strongly support it."

The argument against the administration putting forward a peace plan, Clinton said, is that the current Israeli government "almost certainly would reject it." That, he said, could "make us look weak."

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