Clinton: Climate change key for Dems |

Clinton: Climate change key for Dems

Joel Stonington
Former President Bill Clinton speaks Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Democrats should perform well in November if they focus on issues like climate change, former President Bill Clinton told an Aspen Ideas Festival audience Friday.”Historically, we should win,” Clinton said. “We might well win one or more houses.” In a wide-ranging, hour-long interview, Clinton discussed AIDS, Sudan, limits to executive power, climate change, Rwanda, oil, Iraq, Democratic Party strategies and GOP mastermind Karl Rove. The Republican strategy is weak, he said.

“Let’s forget about global warming and talk about flag burning and gay marriage,” Clinton said. “I don’t know how long you can milk that old cow.”Democrats, he said, need to focus on their differences with the GOP and on promoting what they stand for. One of those things should be fighting climate change, he said.Clinton said America is losing jobs and its economy is suffering without investment in the future of energy.”This decade’s new jobs are in clean energy, and we haven’t seized them,” he said. “We have a short time in the life of the planet to turn this around.”He said Democrats should seize on the opportunity to stress the national security angle of clean energy. He said climate change is a far more important issue than he thought when he was in office.

Although Clinton is urging Democrats to state their differences with Republicans, he shares some views with President Bush. He said there should be limits on executive power, but he also said any president would press for more executive power in Bush’s situation.Further, he said pulling out of Iraq would be a mistake. “Once you break the eggs, you have the responsibility to make an omelet,” he said. “It’d be an error to say we’ll leave by X date.”

But he still has concerns about overextending troops.”I’m worried about Afghanistan,” he said, before delving into questions about North Korea and Iran.And on matters of international diplomacy, he differs with the Bush administration. He said he has a deep belief in keeping channels of communication open, even to groups that support terrorist activities, like Hamas in the Middle East.”I’d still talk to them if they wanted to talk,” he said. “The more you talk, the fewer people will die. There is an inherent benefit to that … every single death is just another scar you have to claw through before you can make a deal.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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