×

Maria Bartiromo Speaks to Former President Bill Clinton on "Power Lunch" Today at 1 PM ET (Transcript Included)

power_lunch_200x107.jpg

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH
WHERE: CNBC'S "POWER LUNCH"

The following is the unofficial transcript of a first on CNBC interview with Former President Bill Clinton on CNBC's "Power Lunch" today. All references must be sourced to CNBC.

In the interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Former President Bill Clinton discusses a broad range of topics including this week's UN meeting and the controversy over Iranian President Ahmadinejad, record high oil prices, dependence on foreign oil, global economic growth, inflation and recession concerns, real estate downturn and mortgage meltdown, trade/protectionism, safety of Chinese imports, Arab investment in the United States, global warming, the "green" movement, healthcare reform, Hillary's candidacy and Alan Greenspan's book.

BILL GRIFFETH: NYC WE GO TO MARIA BARTIROMO AND HER GUEST.

BARTIROMO: I AM HERE AT THE CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE WITH THE 42nd PRESIDENT PRESIDENT CLINTON. CONGRATULATIONS ON ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL CGI WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING TO GET OUT OF THIS?

CLINTON: I JUST WANT TO GET MORE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN TRYING TO DO THINGS TO HELP SOLVE PROBLEMS AND SAVE LIVES AND SO FAR WE ARE OFF TO A GOOD START. WE HAD A COMMITMENT FROM A FLORIDA UTILITY TO SPEND ALMOST TWO AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS ON SOLAR POWER IN FLORIDA WHICH WILL HAVE A HUGE IMPACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE CREATE JOBS FOR PEOPLE MAKING THE SOLAR PANELS AND HELP LOWER PEOPLE'S UTILITY BILLS. THAT'S THE SORT OF THING WE ARE TRYING TO DO. WE HAD AN INTERESTING COMMITMENT THAT WILL HELP SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE IN POOR COUNTRIES TO START SMALL BUSINESS SELLING READING GLASSES TO PEOPLE WHO NEED THEM IN POOR COUNTRIES. IN THOSE COUNTRIES, LOW INCOME COUNTRIES, ONLY 5% NEED READING GLASSES CAN GET THEM. IT IS A WAY TO CREATE JOBS AND START BUSINESSES AND SOLVE A PROBLEM. THAT MAY BE MY FAVORITE COMMITMENT THIS YEAR.

BARTIROMO: YOU BRING IT SO MANY A DIFFERENT BUSINESSES AND I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT STARTING CGI IN HONG KONG. BUT SOME HAPPENINGS OF THE DAY WE HAVE THE UN AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY GOING ON AND THE PRESIDENT OF IRAN IN TOWN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF HIS EFFORT TO TRY TO LAY A WREATH AT GROUND ZERO AND HIS COMMENTS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION?

CLINTON: I AGREE WITH THE DECISION NOT TO PERMIT HIM TO GO DOWN THERE BECAUSE HE HAS AND HIS COUNTRY HAS SUPPORTED TERROR. I KNOW THAT INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH IRAN HAS BEEN A LONGTIME OPPONENT OF THE AL QAEDA BUT THAT IS FOR LOCAL OR REGIONAL REASONS, BUT I THINK IT WAS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT NOT TO LET HIM GO DOWN THERE. AND I THINK IF I HAD BEEN HIM, INSTEAD OF PICKING A FIGHT OR OVERREACTING TO THE CRITICISM AT COLUMBIA, I WOULD HAVE TRIED TO LAY THE BASIS FOR SOME SORT OF DIALOGUE. I THINK IT IS A MISTAKE THAT HE DIDN'T. IRAN IS A BIG COUNTRY, THREE TIMES THE SIZE OF IRAQ, THEY'VE GOT A GENUINE MILITARY, WE COULD HAVE A LOT OF TROUBLE WITH THEM IN THE FUTURE. BUT THE MAIN THING IS THEY ARE A COUNTRY WHERE TWO-THIRDS OF THAT COUNTRY HAVE CONSISTENTLY IT VOTED FOR THE MOST PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATE. THEY HAVE THIS CRAZY CONSTITUTION THAT ALLOWS THE MINORITY THROUGH THE RELIGIOUS COUNCIL TO CANCEL CANDIDATES' OFF THE BALLOT WHERE THAT HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED BY THE CONGRESS AND CONTROLS INTELLIGENCE AND TERROR. SO YOU HAVE THIS CRAZY, ALMOST SCHIZOPHRENIC POLITICAL SYSTEM IN THAT COUNTRY THAT DREW UP THIS PRESIDENT. WE SHOULD BE TRYING TO FIND A NON HOSTILE WAY TO WORK OUT OUR FUTURE AND THEIR FUTURE IN THE REGION. IT IS TRAGIC. SO I THINK MY TAKE IS HE MISSED A CHANCE IF NOT MAKE FRIENDS AT LEAST START A DIALOGUE.

BARTIROMO: HOW IS THIS COUNTRY STANDING AROUND THE WORLD? A LOT OF PEOPLE TALK ABOUT PROTECTIONISM IN THIS COUNTRY GETTING MORE AND NATIONALISTIC DUBAI PORTAS COULDN'T GO THROUGH, UNICAL DEAL COULD NOT GO THROUGH WITH CHINESE, ARE WE PROTECTIONIST?

CLINTON: I THINK THERE IS RISING PROTECTIONISM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND WEALTHY AND POOR COUNTRIES ALIKE BECAUSE THERE IS RISING INEQUALITY. THEREFORE YOU HAVE LARGER AND LARGER NUMBERS OF PEOPLE GLOBALLY THEY AND THEIR FAMILIES AND THE PEOPLE THEY KNOW ARE BEING HURT BY GLOBALIZATION. SO TRADE BECOMES AN EASY TARGET FOR THEM. I THINK IT IS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED. I THINK THE PRIMARY REASON WE HAVE FLAT WAGES AND RISING INEQUALITY IN AMERICA AND MOST OTHER WEALTHY COUNTRIES IS THAT IN AN OPEN ECONOMY YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SOURCE OF NEW JOBS EVERY FIVE THROUGH EIGHT YEARS. AND I THINK I DO NOT BELIEVE WE WOULD HAVE HAD RISING INEQUALITY IN THIS DECADE YOU CAN GET A SERIOUS COMMITMENT TO THE FUTURE BECAUSE WE CREATED SO MANY GOOD JOBS WITH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WHEN I WAS PRESIDENT THEM BEFORE. SIX OF THE LAST EIGHT YEARS, MY LAST SIX YEARS WE HAD RISING MEDIAN WAGES AND NO INCREASE IN INEQUALITY BECAUSE OF THE JOB GROWTH. THAT IS WHAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE. BUT YES, IT DOES FEEL THAT AMERICA IS MORE PROTECTIONIST. BUT THE PROBLEMS WITH THE PRODUCTS COMING OUT OF CHINA WHICH IS THE SPECIFIC TO THEM, OUR BIGGEST TRADE DEFICIT IS WITH CHINA THEN YOU HAVE THE CHOICE WAS LED AND OTHER PROBLEMS. THERE IS A REACTION BECAUSE THE TRADE ENFORCEMENT REACTIONS HAVE GONE WAY DOWN.

BARTIROMO: WE SHOULD BE TOUGHER?

CLINTON: NO. I THINK WE SHOULD ENFORCE OUR TRADE LAWS THE WAY WE DID WHEN I WAS PRESIDENT. I AM MORE OPEN TO TRADE THAN MANY MEMBERS OF MY PARTY. I BELIEVE I NEGOTIATED THREE HUNDRED TRADE AGREEMENTS, I DO BELIEVE THEY CREATE MORE WEALTH GLOBALLY. I THINK THE PROBLEM IN POOR COUNTRIES IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. IN POOR COUNTRIES YOU HAVE GROWING REACTION TO GLOBALIZATION FOR TWO REASONS. ONE IS INEQUALITY. THE SECOND IS THAT WHILE TRADE HAS LIFTED MORE PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY AND MORE COUNTRIES THAN IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, IT CANNOT LIFT EVERYBODY ALL BY ITSELF OUT OF POVERTY. SO IN CHINA YOU HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE MOVING OUT OF POVERTY THAN IN THE LAST 20 YEARS BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE LEFT BEHIND AND THE SAME THING IS HAPPENING IN INDIA. SO YES THERE IS MORE PROTECTIONISM BUT THERE ARE OBJECTIVE REASONS THAT CITIZENS SUPPORT THAT BUT WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS NOT STOP TRADE BUT ANSWER THE PROBLEMS.

BARTIROMO: LET'S GO TO THE UPCOMING RATE ELECTION WHAT ROLE WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY IF YOUR WIFE IS THE NEXT PRESIDENT?

CLINTON: I WOULD LIKE TO DO WHATEVER WOULD MOST HELP HER SUCCEED. SERVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WELL AND HELP AMERICA'S STANDING IN THE WORLD. SHE THINKS OF OF THE TOP OF HER HEAD NOW THE BEST THING I COULD DO FOR HER WOULD BE TO TRAVEL THE WORLD AND HELP THE WORLD TO KNOW WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AT WITH SOME PROMINENT REPUBLICANS THEN TRY TO HELP SOLVE SPECIFIC INTERNATIONAL PROBLEMS. I WILL DO THAT. SHE ALSO HAS SAID WHEN I TOLD HER I WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE TO DO THIS WORK, MY OLD FOUNDATION WORK AND AIDSDEVELOPMENT WORK, THAT SHE AGREED THAT THAT WAS GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY SO I HOPE I WILL BE ABLE TO DO THAT FOR GO BEYOND THAT I THINK I SHOULD DO WHATEVER SPECIFICALLY I CAN DO THAT WOULD BE OF MOST HELP TO HER BECAUSE THEY CAUSE THAT SHE WILL HAVE TO MAKE I AM PREPARED FOR HER TO MAKE IT.

BARTIROMO: CAN YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANY OTHER FIRST PARTNER OR FIRST LADY AS IT WOULD BE?

CLINTON: NOT EXACTLY. BECAUSE I WAS PRESIDENT IT WILL BE DIFFERENT. BUT I DON'T THINK WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT IN SOME WAYS THEN SHE OR ELEANOR ROOSEVELT. THEY BOTH WENT OVER THE WORLD THERE WERE THE TWO MOST-ACTIVE ONES I THINK. BUT IN THE SENSE THAT THEY DIDN'T MAKE POLICY, THEY JUST GIVE THEIR ADVICE WHEN THEY WERE ASKED FOR I THINK THAT IS WHAT I SHOULD DO. BUT I CAN PROBABLY DO MORE TO HELP SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE LIFE THAT I HAVE HAD.

BARTIROMO: WHAT ABOUT GREENSPAN'S COMMENTS ABOUT YOU? HE SAID YOU AND NIXON WERE THE SMARTEST PRESIDENT HE TREATED DO BETTER WITH THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION THEN FISCAL POLICY AND SPENDING.

CLINTON: I WAS HONORED BY THAT. BUT HE HAD THE FACTS ON THE SIDE. I WAS QUITE A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE BUT I THINK IT PAID OFF ECONOMICALLY. I THINK IF YOU ARE A SOCIAL PROGRESSIVE OF IT PAYS TO BE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE. WE HAVE MASSIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH WITH LOW INFLATION AND LOW INTEREST RATES WHICH OPERATED WITH A TAX CUT TO WORKING PEOPLE. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 20 YEARS WE DIDN'T HAVE INCREASING INEQUALITY. WE HAD MORE PEOPLE WITH HEALTH INSURANCE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 12 YEARS, THE BIGGEST INCREASE IN COLLEGE AID IN 50 YEARS. SO I THINK THIS WORKS. BUT GREENSPAN AND I FROM VERY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES HE IS A LIBERTARIAN, CONSERVATIVE. AND I AM AN OLD FASHIONED A THIRD WAY DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE. A FISCAL CONSERVATIVE AND SOCIAL PROGRESS OF BUT WE CAME TO THE SAME PLACE. WE KNEW THAT WE HAD JUST CAME OUT OF 12 YEARS OF QUADRUPLED AND WE KNEW IT WAS WRONG AND WE WORK TO TURN IT AROUND. IT BONDED AS AND I THINK HE LIKED IT THAT I NEVER TRIED TO INTERFERE WITH HIS JOB. I BELIEVE IN THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE FED.

BARTIROMO: YOU ALSO HAVE THE HIGHEST HOME OWNERSHIP. SHOULD WE HAVE SEEN THE SUBPRIME MELTDOWN COMING?

CLINTON: PROBABLY IT IS HARD TO AVOID AT THE END OF MY 10 YEAR WE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF THAT TECHNOLOGY IT. FROM THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY BUT IT IS INTERESTING BECAUSE IN THE TELECOM STOCKS FOR EXAMPLE, THE REAL PROBLEM WAS INFRASTRUCTURE EXPLODED 500%. THAT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. 500% A YEAR IN THE MID-90S. AND THE BUST WAS BECAUSE DEMAND DROPPED TO A GROWTH RATE OF FIVE 1/3 75% A YEAR. SO WE HAD TOO MUCH SUPPLY. IN THE SUBPRIME THING I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING BUT I THINK THE RATING AGENCIES LET US DOWN. WHENEVER SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT PROBABLY IS. I THINK THERE WAS A MARKET FOR SUBPRIME MORTGAGES IN THE SENSE THAT THERE PROBABLY ARE A FAIR NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN AMERICA WHO COULD TAKE OUT A MORTGAGE PAYMENT AND MAKE THEIR PAYMENTS WHO MY NOT SCORE WELL IN A TRADITIONAL MORTGAGE WE DEAL. BUT IT IS INCONCEIVABLE TO ME THAT THERE WERE THAT MANY OF THEM AND THAT IN TURN YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRY TO PACKAGE THOSE MORTGAGES AND THEN LET PEOPLE BUY THEM ON MARGIN OF ABOUT SO THEY BOUGHT THEM WITH LEVERAGE TO THAT WHICH WHAT GOT THEM IN TROUBLE. SO I THINK THAT WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING AND THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE PROTECTIONISM AND DISCLOSURE AND THE RATING AGENCIES SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER. THE PACKAGING WITH LEVERAGED IT WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

BARTIROMO: AND THEY ARE IN IN FRONT OF CONGRESS TODAY TRYING TO DEFEND IT.

CLINTON: I AM NOT SURE THERE ARE ANY REAL BAD PEOPLE I THINK THEY OUGHT TO HAVE A CHANCE TO PUT OUT WHAT THEY SAID BUT IT IS A CAUTIONARY TALE. WHENEVER SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT PROBABLY IS. THERE ARE NO FREE CHOICE IS THEY ALL HAVE CONSEQUENCES.

BARTIROMO: WE WILL LEAVE IT THERE MR. PRESIDENT THEY DO FOR BEING ON THE PROGRAM. WE WILL CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON AND BRING YOU THE REST ON "CLOSING BELL". I WILL ASK HIM WHAT THE CURRENT CANDIDATES WE SHOULD FOCUS ON. THAT IS AT 3:00 P.M. ON "CLOSING BELL".





About CNBC:
CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news, providing real-time financial market coverage and business information to more than 340 million homes worldwide, including more than 95 million households in the United States and Canada. The network's Business Day programming (weekdays from 5:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and also includes reports from CNBC news bureaus worldwide. Additionally, CNBC viewers can manage their individual investment portfolios and gain additional in-depth information from on-air reports by accessing http://www.cnbc.com.

Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBC Universal Media Village Web site at http://nbcumv.com/cnbc/.