Former President Clinton: Obama off to good start

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton said Monday he thinks the country will surmount the current economic crisis, but sees the threat of terrorism and global instability as a longer-term problem.

Clinton also gave President Barack Obama high marks for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that Obama will sign into law as early as Tuesday.

"I think he's off to a good start," Clinton said. "I think he's got a good team."

He said he thought Obama's White House handled the stimulus issue relatively well, "given the fact they had to do it in a hurry."

Clinton also said he believes the massive bill, which combines spending and tax cuts, will be "our bridge over troubled waters."

He confirmed he has talked to Obama about the job, although Clinton said he didn't want to be too specific.

He said he talked to the new president about "nuts and bolts" issues of the presidency and how to keep things from "falling through the cracks."

Asked his perspective on how the country fell into such economic hard times, Clinton responded in an NBC "Today" show interview by asking rhetorically: "Did any of them seriously believe that if I had been president and my economic team had been in place the last eight years, that this would be taking place."

In another interview, Clinton was asked which president he would most identify with.

"Personally, I'm not sure," he told CNN. "One guy wrote a book saying that I was most like Thomas Jefferson, but the times in which I governed were most like Theodore Roosevelt's. And we had - and the results I received were similar. We had - he had enormous success. The country was better off when he quit than when he started."

Clinton also said that several of the programs that Theodore Roosevelt pushed "were not actually done until his cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, became president, you know, more than 20 years later."

"I think that a lot of the things that I recommended in terms of the health care reform will come to fruition now that we have a more modern Democratic Congress and a new Democrat Congress and the Obama administration there," he said. "I'll be surprised if they don't get health care reform and some of the other things I recommended. I'm excited about it."

Clinton was ranked 15th among presidents in the latest C-SPAN survey of some 65 presidential scholars and experts, moving up six places from where he stood in an earlier survey in 2000.


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