Exclusive Interview With Sen. Hillary Clinton

CLINTON: Well, what I believe, George, is that in the 1990s, we had a booming economy that created nearly 23 million new jobs. More people were lifted out of poverty than in any time in our recent history. It was an economy that worked for everyone, not just for the rich, the wealthy, and the wealth-connected. But there were underlying issues that we didn't understand fully.

Now, you remember this, because George did work in that '92 campaign, and George and I actually were against NAFTA. I'm talking about him in his previous life, before he was an objective journalist and didn't have opinions about such matters.


STEPHANOPOULOS: [inaudible] opinion.

CLINTON: Yes, but we were in meetings together where we said, look, we think there's going to be a lot of downsides, and we're not really thinking through that.

But in the 20th century and until relatively late in the 20th century, we dominated the world economy. And we had an ...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, what...

CLINTON: ... opportunity to really see our jobs grow here by being smart about how we traded.


CLINTON: But then we've got to make changes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... you really have it both ways there. You talked about being against NAFTA in 1992, 1993. Yet President Clinton has said time and time again, NAFTA and free trade agreements were part of the economic success in the 1990s. How can you claim credit for the good things but not take blame for the bad?

CLINTON: Well, I have said very clearly that I am going to renegotiate NAFTA and I will fix NAFTA. But I think it's also fair to say, George, that, you know, when the Congress turned Republican in 1995, they had a different set of priorities than the Clinton administration did. Because if you look at some of the factors that have led to job loss and increasing costs, clearly our failure to have a universal health care system puts us at a competitive disadvantage, because businesses bear the cost, or they just don't help their employees. So we are essentially competing against companies and countries that handle health care differently. They either spread the cost among everybody, or they don't pay for anything. We try to keep the costs localized on local businesses.

So if you look at the number of cost drivers that exist in our economy, we have failed to address a lot of them. And now, we can keep talking about what we should have done or could have done, or we can elect a president who will do it. And that's what I intend to be, because we've learned a lot and we understand what we're going to have to do in order to have a globally competitive economy that creates a lot of good jobs again in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There is still some suspicion of you, though, on free trade, in part because President Clinton continues to advocate free trade. He's taken, since leaving the White House, more than $1 million in speaking fees from interests representing China and others. And also contributions to the library.

Because of that, why shouldn't his library release all the contributors so people can decide whether there is a conflict?

CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that I don't know any married couple that agrees on everything, and we have a disagreement on some of our positions and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But shouldn't voters have the right to decide?

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