Bill Clinton Explains Donald Trump’s ‘Macho’ Appeal on Colbert

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Obviously, we know who Bill Clinton is supporting in the 2016 presidential race (“The lady I saw singing on Saturday Night Live,” as he put it), but he actually focused more on analyzing other politicians during his appearance on Tuesday’s Late Night With Stephen Colbert. When asked if there’s something to be said for having one party control the legislative and executive branch, considering that Washington tends to be crippled by gridlock, Clinton said, “Depends on what it is that gets done.”

He offered an example, and a dig at his successor: “When the second President Bush came into office, for the first six years he had a Republican Congress … they went back to trickle-down economics, they abandoned my economic policy, we doubled the debt of the country, median income was lower than it was the day I left office even before the financial crash and you know the rest.” Clinton kept a straight face as the audience started hooting, saying, “So it depends on whether you think that was good or not.”

At the end of the interview, Colbert asked Clinton to do a lightning round about his wife’s rivals in the 2016 race. First, why is Bernie Sanders doing so well? “Because there are a lot of people all over the world that are really hacked off that they think the system is rigged against them and the rich get all the gains,” Clinton said. “And in America a lot of them believe that the Republicans … reward the people that go furthest to the right so the Democrats would be even more effective if they move further to the left.”

How about the Trump phenomenon? “He’s a master brander and he’s the most interesting character out there,” Clinton said. He noted that during the first debate, while the other Republican candidates were trying to be politically correct, Trump essentially said, “I run things and I build things and you need somebody that will go in there and fix it. And if they don’t let me fix it, I’ll just get them out of the way.” Clinton said Trump’s success might wind up being short-lived, but “there is a macho appeal to saying ‘I’m just sick of nothing happening. I’m going to make things happen. Vote for me.’”

And what about that rumor that Clinton called Trump and urged him to run? “I get credit for doing a lot of things I didn’t do,” he said. Clinton said a message was relayed through their daughters that Trump wanted to talk, but when Clinton finally called it seemed the real-estate mogul had forgotten what he wanted to chat about. “I had a very pleasant conversation with him, and it wasn’t about running for office,” he said. “So I missed the chance!”