Clinton: I Would've Won Third Term

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 7, 2000 -- Bill Clinton says he would have been temptedto run for president again if the Constitution would have let him.And, he says, he would have won.

“Oh, I probably would have run again,” Clinton tells RollingStone in an interview.

Does he think he’d have been a three-time winner?

“Yes. I do. But it’s hard to say, because it’s entirelyacademic,” Clinton said.

He adds that as life expectancy rises, there may be a reason tochange the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to two four-yearterms. Maybe it should just limit presidents to two “consecutive”terms, Clinton suggests.

8 Years: Not Enough Time?

Just before and after leaving office, President Reagan,America’s last two-term president, often said he too would havetried to stay on. “Two times isn’t necessarily enough time to getall you want done, done. I still had things to do when I left,”Reagan said in February 1989.

The article in the Rolling Stone’s Dec. 28-Jan. 4, 2001, issue,combines information from three interviews that Jann S. Wennerconducted with Clinton between 1992 and 2000 in Little Rock, Ark.,the Oval Office and aboard Air Force One en route.

The interviews covered a series of topics including hisimpeachment, prison reform, Clinton’s feelings about formerPresident Nixon and what he will do when he leaves the White Houseon Jan. 20.

In an interview just four days before the election limbo,Clinton predicted that Vice President Al Gore would win Florida’s25 electoral votes. He’s not right, but he’s not wrong — yet.

“I’ve always thought Gore would win Florida. We worked likecrazy there for eight years. And we’ve done a lot for Florida, anda lot with Florida. And [Gore’s running mate] Joe Lieberman hashelped a lot in Florida.”

Private Rage Over Impeachment

On impeachment, Clinton said he believes history will exoneratehim. Clinton says his impeachment for actions involving his affairwith Monica Lewinsky was wrong, just as it was wrong for lawmakersto impeach President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Clinton says he became upset at times but vented his feelings inprivate.

“I got angry, but I always was alone with friends who woulddeflate me. I don’t think it ever clouded my judgment on anyofficial thing,” Clinton said. “One of the things I had to learn... was that, at some point, presidents are not permitted to havepersonal feelings. When you manifest your anger in public, itshould be on behalf of the American people and the values that theybelieve in. All this stuff you can’t take personally.”

President Clinton On...

Prison Reform: Clinton says jail time helped his brother Rogerkick a cocaine habit, but not all drug offenders would necessarilybenefit from being locked up. “A lot of people are in prison todaybecause they have drug problems or alcohol problems. And too manyof them are getting out — particularly out of state systems —without treatment, without education, without skills, withoutserious efforts at job placement,” Clinton said.

President Nixon: “He paid a high price for what he did,”Clinton said. Later he added: “I always thought that he could havebeen a great president if he had been more trusting of the Americanpeople. I thought that somewhere way back there, something happenedin terms of his ability to feel at home, at ease with the ebb andflow of human life and popular opinion.”

Clinton’s Future: “I’m sure I’ll be involved in this wholearea of racial and religious conciliation at home and around theworld, and economic empowerment of poor people, here and around theworld.” The president expressed interest in global warming andeconomic development, racial and religious reconciliation and thebreakdown of public health systems around the world. “Thechallenge is to trade power and authority, broadly spread, forinfluence and impact, tightly concentrated,” he said.

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