MEDIA

Bill Clinton On MLK: "I Think He'd Get A Kick" Out Of Hillary And Barack

NBC Nightly News was the latest stop on the stump for Bill Clinton, who sat with Tom Brokaw for an interview for last night's broadcast, on the eve of Martin Luther King day and after being fingered as instigator-in-chief in the Democratic campaign by Newsweek and chastised for his temper by the New York Times. It's a pretty short interview, and a tame one; Brokaw kept his questions lofty and didn't go after Clinton about his claims of voter suppression in Nevada (or those of the Obama campaign), or anything about the nature of his role in his wife's campaign. Brokaw asked Clinton if he thought Martin Luther King would have been "excited" by Barack Obama as a "highly educated and charismatic" African-American candidate. Clinton said, yes, absolutely, saying that Obama was "a great speaker, a smart man, someone who loves our country." Said the former President:

I think he would get a kick out of the fact that it appears that the nominee of the Democratic party would either be an African-American senator who's profoundly eloquent, or a woman senator who got her Methodist youth minister to take her to see Dr. King when she was a young high school student, who shared his lifelong commitment and who idolized him...I think that he would be deeply pleased by this.

Brokaw then asked Clinton if, as America's "first black president" he understood how young African-Americans would find it "irresistible" to support Obama. Clinton said yes, and "we respect that" — and then managed not only to speak completely for his wife but also to effortlessly spin the conflict and "sharp elbows" of the recent campaign as evidence of — wait for it — coming together:

I've been really proud of the way she has approached African-Americans in this campaign and said, 'Look...I've got a lifetime of commitment to these causes, a lifetime of involvement...a lot of the African-Americans who are supporting me are doing it because they know what we've done together. If you can't be with me for obvious reasons I respect you, and when this is over we'll be together...This is going to be an election in which we are coming together through debate and disagreement and discord and even, you know, sharp elbows in Nevada — we're gonna somehow...this is America, this is the election in which we broke all the categories, and I respect you.' I think that's the only thing you can say.

Er, yes, the only thing. Also, interesting choice of words: "And when this is over we'll be together." It's true, baby, I promise. Watch the video here:

Surprisingly, that's it for the interview — usually an extended, less ruthlessly-edited version can be found on the web but not in this case. Which is a pity, because Bill Clinton is sorta in the news right now. Maybe we should let Tyra have at him. In other news, anchor emeritus Brokaw has been getting a workout on NBC, participating in election coverage (yep, that's him smacking down Chris Matthews on the night of the NH primary) and waxing political on Meet The Press yesterday morning.

Also: NBC video is now embeddable! Whoo-hoo!