'This Week' Transcript: Former President Bill Clinton

All the Arabs would identify with Israel. They'd have a political and economic partnership. The whole economic basis in the Middle East would shift from oil to ideas. Look at what the Saudi Arabians are doing -- building six new towns. The -- the UAE wins the international competition for the clean energy agency. And they're going to build a carbon neutral city in the UAE. And nobody thinks about this.

Dubai is the only country with huge amounts of imported workers that's actually passed legislation to give these immigrant workers a better deal in the Middle East. And they've got women in the government. They have a joint public-private decision making process. Nobody knows anything about it. Why? Because of the Palestinian-Israeli thing.

How could the Syrians stay out there alone cooperating with the Iranians and letting Hezbollah people travel through Syria and doing all the things they do. If they were at peace with the Palestinians, they would have to come along with the rest of the Arab states. There would be a peace between Israel and Syria. This is a huge deal.

So the fact that the president is putting new energy into this, taking personal responsibility for it, and trying to get them back to the table, that's the most important thing. If this is the tactic he decides to adopt, I will strongly support it.

TAPPER: When you were watching healthcare reform finally pass after having tried it yourself, did you -- did you see it as something like, "I'm glad we stormed the castle in '93-'94, because that paved the way for this?"

CLINTON: Absolutely. You know, before I did it President Nixon had tried, President Truman had tried. President Johnson who had the biggest congressional majority didn't even try for universal healthcare. He did two important things -- Medicare and Medicaid. But he thought even with that Congress he couldn't get it.

We were the first administration that ever got a bill out of committee. We got two or three bills out of committee. And once I saw William Kristol's memo to Bob Dole, I realized we never had a chance. Because we couldn't pass it without five or six Republicans. They -- they -- I had an obstacle President Obama didn't have. They had an absolute, clear filibuster number. That is, they had 45 Republican senators. They could have lost four and still defeated me.

I felt like the -- 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. And you know that took two decades. And this took less time. So I actually -- I was thrilled by it. And worked hard. Hillary and I lobbied people all over the weekend before the vote. And she and I were ecstatic.

It's -- it's -- sometimes takes a long time to change a country. And you -- and I think frankly now they will keep changing this bill. They'll have to keep working on it and putting more cost drivers in it to take the cost down. But it's a big, big step. And it's a wonderful thing for the country.

TAPPER: President Clinton, thanks so much for joining us. Congratulations on the third anniversary of CGIU.

CLINTON: Thank you.

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