WATCH: On the Daily Show, Bill Clinton gets real about how politicians try to play working class fears
Former President Bill Clinton joined Trevor Noah on Thursday’s “Daily Show” to talk about the work the Clinton Foundation has done, promote Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and take a few swipes at Donald Trump.
Noah began the second half of the interview remarking that the campaign was quickly becoming one of the uglier campaigns many have seen. “You know, a lot of hateful rhetoric is coming up, you know, whether it with racial, nationalistic, you know, you see the rise of ultra-right movements and so on, a lot of misogynistic comments about your wife,” Noah said, before asking Clinton if he sees that or the more positive side.
Clinton admitted that most rallies are filled with the major supporters and his job is to keep them motivated and make sure they show up in November.
“But for most of my life, each political party had a 40 percent base, and then there were 20 percent, they were genuinely up for grabs,” Clinton continued. “By the time the 2000 race came along between Al Gore and president George W. Bush, it was probably down to ten. It may be down to less now because we’re getting siloed. We are siloed in the TV shows we watch and the web sites we scan, everything.”
Clinton remains optimistic, saying that he thinks that America is a little less racist, sexist and homophobic than in times past.
Noah remarked that there seem to be a solid set of people who want someone “who thinks differently” and “who doesn’t believe in logic and ideas.”
Clinton brought up some of the strongest supporters in the campaign “are people who have worked for her or have done business with [Trump].” The supporters on the Trump side, however, are ones that are against the Obama administration, want something new, don’t like change and “want to come inside and close the door,” Clinton described. He called it the Brexit vote in the U.K.
“What I think is important is the proven record of making good decisions that make good things happen for other people — the people that work for you, the people that you are supposed to serve, that’s what I think is important,” Clinton said.
He went on to say that the hateful rhetoric is tough for him because he comes from a racially segregated south.
“Look, I am a product of what is supposed to be Hillary’s opponents’ base — the non-college educated, small town and rural, white working class,” Clinton said. “I was the first person in my family to ever go to college. I’ll probably be the last president to ever live on a small farm without indoor plumbing. It’s good politics, it’s a terrible experience. In the winter the outhouse is overrated. In the summer when the snakes come out.”
He continued that he has seen “unscrupulous politicians” over the years “play” people with his background.
“All the racism that was inspired over the integration of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, everybody looking for somebody else to blame,” Clinton said. “Surely to God there is some way we can be just a little bit madder than we are now, just a little bit more divided, and yet the people I come from, for all their anger, they provided about — the Scott-Irish Protestants made up 25 percent of the people serving this country going back to the revolution. If your house was on fire you would want them in your neighborhood because they would run in, save your kid and put the fire out.”
But Clinton believes they are continuing to be played now as incomes fall. “There are two counties in West Virginia where the number one source of income is a disability check,” Clinton said. “This is the first drug epidemic in my lifetime where the addiction rates are highest in small town in rural America. I just try to think about what to do about this because I’m not in politics anymore, and I think the only way to soothe people’s pain is to give them a positive response that constitutes answers not anger and empowerment, not resentment. I think that’s the answer.”
Noah said that Clinton remains one of the happier voices on the campaign trail, and one of the happiest moments he has ever seen Clinton was at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia when the balloons were dropped. “So, I wanted to give you the gift of balloons,” Noah said, and balloons dropped on Clinton’s head.
Clinton admitted, “I really am in my second childhood.”
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