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WASHINGTON -- Former President Bill Clinton said in an interview that he plans to be a "backstage adviser" in Hillary Rodham Clinton's expected presidential campaign and intends to spend the year working on his family's philanthropic foundation.

As his wife considers another presidential campaign, the ex-president said in an interview with Town and Country magazine released Tuesday that he would play a behind-the-scenes role and remain focused on his work at the Clinton Foundation, which he founded in 2001 after he left the White House.

"I think it's important, and Hillary does, too, that she go out there as if she's never run for anything before and establish her connection with the voters," Clinton said. "And that my role should primarily be as a backstage adviser to her until we get much, much closer to the election."

Clinton said he's warned his wife that he may not be as effective on the stump as he once was.

"I've told Hillary that I don't think I'm good [at campaigning] anymore, because I'm not mad at anybody," he said. "I'm a grandfather, and I got to see my granddaughter last night, and I can't be mad."

The interview was conducted while Bill Clinton was in Haiti on behalf of the Clinton Foundation. The foundation has come under scrutiny for accepting contributions from foreign donors, especially from countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have poor records on women's rights.

The former president defended the foundation's commitment to accountability, calling it the "most transparent" of all the presidential foundations and "more transparent" than many major foundations.

Asked about his role if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Bill Clinton said he would "have to assess what she wants me to do," but "we might have to change the [foundation's] rules gain."

When Hillary Clinton became President Barack Obama's secretary of state in 2009, the foundation agreed to stop raising money from foreign governments, but The Washington Post reported in February that some foreign governments continued to donate while she was in the Obama administration.

In one case, the foundation said it should have sought approval from the State Department before accepting a $500,000 contribution from the Algerian government to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti.

Bill Clinton said they haven't discussed any changes to how the foundation would function, "and I don't think we should. You can't. It's hard for any party to hang on to the White House for 12 years, and it's a long road. A thousand things could happen."

Clinton is likely to announce her presidential campaign within the next two weeks, associates have said.

If she does, more than a dozen people in an office building overlooking the Potomac River will blast out the news by email and social media to millions of her supporters, urging them to sign onto her campaign.

And then the super political action committee Ready for Hillary will begin winding down its operations.

The super PAC, which started two years ago to lay the groundwork for a Clinton campaign, organized her sprawling network of supporters and promoted the former secretary of state on campuses, at small gatherings and Democratic rallies.

It will leave behind a list of volunteers and financial supporters to be tapped for her campaign.

The lists of supporters are expected to be transferred to or rented by Clinton's campaign, providing an up-to-date road map of volunteers, donors and advocates who will be called upon in the months ahead.

"This is an asset that they would not have had without Ready for Hillary," said Harold Ickes, a former deputy White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton.

The group also plans to post its list of top donors on the Internet, making it available to Clinton's campaign and other Democrats running in 2016.

Ready for Hillary has raised $14 million despite capping its donations at $25,000 per person.

Among donors: billionaire George Soros, Hollywood producer Marcy Carsey, CEO Marc Benioff and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the clothing line Esprit.

Billionaire Warren Buffett sent $25,000 and a letter reiterating his support for an eventual Clinton campaign.

Friends said Clinton was struck by the devotion of Ready for Hillary activists, who often wore stickers at her book signings and filled auditoriums when she campaigned on behalf of Democratic candidates last year.

If Clinton ever had doubts about running, Ready for Hillary may have helped allay those concerns.

"She would see hundreds and hundreds of supporters -- I think that's the charm of it," said former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., a Clinton friend and Ready for Hillary adviser. "It brings a smile to her face."

Information for this article was contributed by Ken Thomas of The Associated Press and by Jennifer Epstein of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 04/08/2015

Print Headline: In Clinton's likely run, Bill planning behind-scenes role


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Archived Comments

  • Popsmith
    April 8, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.

    She's too old. She won't take office until 2017 when she's 70. Then she would serve until she's 74, or more. With her history of health problems, I don't think she'd be physically or mentally capable of handling the stress.

  • Packman
    April 8, 2015 at 9:59 a.m.

    Hey Popsmith - You touch on one of many reasons HRC will likely not be elected. Two demographic groups key to HRC or any D to win POTUS are young voters and blacks. Once young voters realize the age issue, they will leave HRC in droves. To 20-somthings a 70-year old is ancient. HRC will face the same balancing act as Mark Pryor regarding association with BH Obama and anything less than a full embrace by HRC of BH will offend blacks. And depending how her health problems manifest themselves during the campaign, it may be over sooner rather than later.
    It should also be noted HRC was the shoe-in D nominee in 2008 yet lost the primary to a slick young community organizer whose greatest political asset was having a black daddy. If HRC couldn't win the D primary in 2008, how can she possibly win the general election in 2016 especially considering all the new baggage her challenger will hang around her neck (Benghazi, Servergate, foreign contributions, etc.)? With all due respect to "It's Time For Hillary" sycophants, there simply are not enough crew cut wearing, gray haired lesbians to put her over the top.