NEW YORK — Former US president Bill Clinton says he could in theory run for president in Ireland or France -- but admitted his bad French would make him "toast" in an election there.

The 66-year-old, who served two terms in the White House from 1993 to 2001, said his Irish heritage made him eligible to run for office there, while the fact he was born in Arkansas means he could enter a Gallic poll race.

"The only two countries I'm eligible to run for the leaderhsip position is if I move to Ireland and buy a house, I can run for president of Ireland because of my Irish heritage," he told CNN.

"And because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of the Louisiana Purchase" -- land which the United States bought from France in 1803 to settle French territorial claims -- he could also run for office in France.

"Any person anywhere in the world that was born in a place that ever was a part of the French empire, if you move to, if you live in France for six months and speak French you can run for president of France," said Clinton.

He once even polled "very well" in a theoretical survey of his chances in a French presidential election, he said in an interview at a Clinton Global Initiative conference in the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

"And I said, you know, 'This is great.' But that's the best I'd ever do because once they heard my broken French with a southern accent I would drop into single digits within a week and I'd be toast."