Bill Clinton Says Obama Should Call the Bluff of Republicans

Former President Bill Clinton, whose Democratic administration was the last to experience a partial government shutdown in 1996, said he wouldn’t negotiate with Republicans on the eve of another shutdown.

“I think there are times when you have to call people’s bluff,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” in which he said Republican tactics to undermine the 2010 health-care law seem “almost spiteful.”

He recalled some “extremely minor” negotiations during his administration’s partial closures and said that, in this case, there isn’t an opportunity for real talks.

“The current price of stopping it is higher than the price of letting the Republicans do it and taking their medicine,” he said. “If they’re going to change the way the Constitution works and fundamentally alter the character of our country and damage the future of a lot of kids, you just have to say no.”

On President Barack Obama opening up talks with Iran, Clinton said he had hoped for a similar opportunity during his presidency. He said Obama has time left in his second term to “make something out of this” and should “keep working for the best and preparing for the worst.”

“They have repeated their pledge that they will not develop nuclear weapons,” he said. “We can’t take their word for it. But we can take them up on it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Hamilton in Washington at jhamilton33@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net.

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