Bill Clinton made 10 separate appearances over the course of a decade on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Thursday night marked his first sit-down with Stewart’s successor, Trevor Noah.
It’s been a rough week for Hillary Clinton, who took three days off from her presidential campaign to recover from pneumonia. Her absence from the trail meant extra time in the spotlight for her husband, who filled in for the candidate in Las Vegas on Wednesday. And he continued to advocate for her forcefully on The Daily Show.
Clinton began by reporting on his wife’s health. He said she “looked great” when she left home in the morning, “looked great” during her stump speech in North Carolina, and she “just called and said she got home and she still feels good.” He added, “Big deal, she had pneumonia. People get it all the time.” Asked if he was “afraid” when he saw her nearly faint this past Sunday, Clinton said, “You’re always concerned, but I was pretty sure I knew what it was because she had been working hard, she was dehydrated, she had been standing up a long time there.”
The former president also addressed some of the criticism of the Clinton Foundation and his Global Initiative, which is meeting this week in New York. Because you can’t undertake the type of large-scale health access initiatives that CGI does without government assistance, Clinton said he would keep that side “at arm’s length” should his wife become president. “I can’t be involved at all, it needs to be an independent entity, and it will be,” he promised.
After a break, the conversation pivoted to the politics of the presidential campaign. Speaking about the sharp divide between left and right in the U.S. today, Clinton said, “We have one remaining bigotry: We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us.” As the crowd laughed tepidly, he added, “They didn’t laugh too loudly because they know I’m telling the truth.”
Noah framed the 2016 election as a battle between “more of the same” from an insider like Hillary Clinton or an “outsider” like Donald Trump, someone who “doesn’t believe in logic or ideas.”
“That’s factually accurate,” Clinton remarked, laughing.
As a former president who came into office as an outsider, Clinton held up experience as paramount. First he explained that he had an “advantage” in the 1992 race by being simultaneously an outsider to Washington but also America’s longest-serving governor.
“Both of these candidates have had a lot of experience,” Clinton said. “They’ve made a lot of decisions, and those decisions have had consequences.” The “big difference” between the two candidates, he said, is not that one is an insider and the other an outsider.
“Most of her strongest supporters are those who’ve worked for her or have done business with him,” Clinton said of his wife. “They’re for her, too.” Most of his supporters “just want something new” and want to “close the door” on anyone who’s not like them, Clinton said. It’s those people, he added, that are being “played” by Trump.
“What I think is important is the proven record of making good decisions that make good things happen for other people,” Clinton said.
Because he knew they make his guest smile, Noah ended the interview with a balloon drop.