Bill Clinton on Palin: ‘Resilient,’ Like Me, Don’t ‘Underestimate’ Her

By Kate McCarthy

Sep 21, 2010 7:00am

Former president Bill Clinton had words of warning for Democrats who think Sarah Palin could be the best thing to happen to President Obama in a 2012 presidential bid – “It’s always a mistake to underestimate your opponent.”

“In the Republican primaries she’s very popular with the conservative base.  She gets more people to come out,” he told me. “And she hasn’t won all of her endorsements, but she’s won most of them.  And you know, she’s a compelling, attractive figure.”

Click here for Clinton’s advice to Obama about the midterm elections.

I sat down with the former president  as he kicked off the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative. Palin, who recently made a high profile trip to Iowa, was the subject of Mark Halperin’s “One Nation” column Monday. I asked Clinton to react to Halperin’s take on the former Alaska governor that “Most of all, she is like Bill Clinton: what doesn’t kill Sarah Palin makes her stronger.”

Clinton laughed and then offered his own observations.

“I do think she’s a resilient character. And we may be entering a sort of period in politics that’s sort of fact free, where the experience in government is a negative,” he told me.

“I think she’s clearly a public figure who is, who speaks well and persuasively to the people who listen to her.  And she’s somebody to be reckoned with,” he said. “And she’s tough.”

Clinton recalled when “people were making fun of her” he read about Palin’s husband finishing the last 500 miles of Alaska’s Iron Dog race with a broken arm.

“Now, where I come from people like that. They think that’s pretty good,” he said.

So is she qualified to be president?  Clinton said the “American people can elect whomever they want.”

“But [she] served, you know, not a full…term as governor, and she went out and did this. We don’t even know if she’s going to run for President,” he said.

Tell me what you think — weigh in below.

George Stephanopoulos

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