ABC's Jake Tapper Gives Bill Clinton a Free Pass on GMA
On Tuesday’s Good Morning America, Jake Tapper’s "exclusive" interview with Bill Clinton was little more than another friendly platform for the former president to attack the current administration. Tapper parroted Clinton’s "warning" for Republicans "hoping to use the London terror arrests to score political points," then failed to challenge any of Clinton’s litany of supposed Republican failures on national security. Moving on to discuss AIDS prevention, Tapper hyped up the work of Clinton’s foundation before asking this softball question regarding "concerns" about abstinence program funding requirements in President Bush’s AIDS initiative: "Do requirements like that hinder the progress of treating and combating AIDS?"
The rest of the segment focused on Clinton’s view of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman’s primary loss to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. When asked about Lieberman’s belief that liberals are pushing moderates out of the Democratic Party, Clinton refuted the charge, and took a shot at the administration’s policy, which Tapper left unchallenged:
Clinton "...His position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position. I don't agree with the characterization that the party rejected the whole legacy of my years...I think it's important for the Democrats not to let Iraq be the dividing line for our party, because whether you were for it or against it, no Democrat's responsible for the mistakes in, in judgment which had been made almost constantly since Saddam was overthrown."
The full transcript from the 7:09 EDT report follows:
Bill Weir: "Well, Kate, one notable Democrat had something to say about that very topic. Appearing tough on terrorism, among the topics discussed by President Bill Clinton. Well, he sat down with ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper exclusively. Jake joins us now from Washington, and in there, a warning to Republicans not to use this topic as a political football, yes, Jake?"
Jake Tapper: "That's right, Bill. In an exclusive interview, former President Bill Clinton warned Republicans not to politicize the London terror arrests, because he said Republicans are vulnerable on national security. He also slammed Joe Lieberman, who he was campaigning for just a few weeks ago, and discussed some of the controversy surrounding his work to fight AIDS. The former president said Republicans hoping to use the London terror arrests to score political points do so at their own peril."
President Bill Clinton: "I don't think the foiling of that London bomb plot has any bearing on our Iraq policy. They seem to be anxious to tie it to al-Qaeda. If that's true, how come we got sometimes as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan? Why has the, the administration, the congressional leadership consistently opposed adequate checks on cargo containers at ports and airports? I think the Republicans should be very careful when trying to play politics with this London airport thing, because they're going to have a hard time with the facts."
Tapper: "We caught up with President Clinton at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada, where he promoted his foundation's work, providing low-cost medicine to nearly half a million impoverished people with HIV AIDS around the world."
Clinton: "It needs doing and it's both the right thing to do, in terms of our national self-interest, and on a purely personal moral basis, it's imperative."
Tapper: "Mr. Clinton praised President Bush's program to fight AIDS, though he acknowledged some concerns about the administration's requirements that almost a third of the prevention budget goes to abstinence and related programs."
Tapper: "Do requirements like that hinder the progress of treating and combating AIDS?"
Clinton: "The fact that they require 30 percent of the money to be spent on abstinence education, that is a big chunk of money, when you consider how expensive the medicine and other things are. On the other hand, you have to give them credit. They're getting $3 billion a year out there that wouldn't have been out there otherwise, and they've saved a lot of lives."
Tapper: "At the conference, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has given almost $2 billion to fight AIDS, said women and girls in these Third World countries need to be empowered in order to stop the spread of the disease."
Clinton: "It's much more likely for HIV to be spread in areas where womens' and girls' role in society are weak and where they're not valued and not developed. What we try to do is to send in role models that will change that. One of our representatives is a young woman who was infected as a result of a rape. And when people see her, they see she's not ashamed, she doesn't feel stigmatized."
Tapper: "But even here, the political animal was eager to discuss events back in the U.S., such as anti-war liberal Ned Lamont's defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, despite Clinton's campaigning for Lieberman a few weeks ago. Joe Lieberman said that this was basically liberals in the party purging moderates such as him and you out of the party, and that there needs to be a voice for more moderate national security voices."
Clinton: "Well, if I were Joe and I were running as an independent, that's what I'd say, too. But that's not quite right. That is, there were almost no Democrats who agreed with his position, which was, 'I want to attack Iraq, whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction.' His position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position. I don't agree with the characterization that the party rejected the whole legacy of my years. I just don't agree with that. That's just--it's a cartoon. It doesn't reflect reality. I think it's important for the Democrats not to let Iraq be the dividing line for our party, because whether you were for it or against it, no Democrat's responsible for the mistakes in, in judgment which had been made almost constantly since Saddam was overthrown."
Tapper: "The former president begged off questions about the possible presidential run of his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, saying he was pleased with the work she was doing in the Senate. He said despite his heart problems a couple years ago, he felt great and was grateful for a second chance at life. The former president, Robin, turns 60 on Saturday."
Roberts: "That's right, coming up on Sunday. Thank you, Jake."