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Bill Clinton on Democrats’ Path to Nov. Victory: Honor Voters’ Anger

In an interview with the NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff on Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton said that President Obama and the Democrats haven’t mounted an effective defense against criticism from Republicans, but they do have enough time to convince voters before November that they’re taking the right steps to fix the country’s economy:

The Republican narrative against him has two parts: one is ‘they had 21 months to fix this mess. They didn’t fix this. Put us back in.’ The larger narrative is he’s a closet socialist who wants to spread this bureaucratic government pall across the country and crush the spirit of liberty and individual initiative and small business vitality, and it’s not American.

I think what he should say back is to their charge they put us in a $3 trillion hole and 21 months wasn’t enough to get out of it … you gave them eight years to dig this hole. Just give us two more years. Give us four years to dig out of it — just half what you gave them, and if it’s not better, you can throw us all out in two years.

Read a full transcript of the interview.

The former president likened the current political climate to that of his administration’s first midterm election in 1994 when the GOP took over the Senate and House.

But Clinton said that the five weeks before November’s midterms in plenty of time for his party to make its case to American voters.

“I think what the Democrats need to say is ‘we share your anger, we honor your anger. If we fail you, throw us out,'” he said.

He said that despite voters’ anger, they need to stay engaged in politics:

What’s more important is that all those people who voted for the first time ever in 2006 and 2008 realize that this is not, there are no one time miracle votes. Citizenship is a lifetime job and if you want to protect the votes that you cast and protect the policies you support you got to show up again and if don’t you can’t complain if you lose and everything you voted for is washed away. It’s your fault for staying home. That’s what people have to understand.

Clinton, who also serves as special envoy to Haiti, spoke about the poor nation’s struggles to recover from the January earthquake and ensure that billions in donations are properly spent. He said that recovery efforts will pick up in the coming months.

Videos edited by Larisa Epatko

Watch the full interview on Wednesday’s NewsHour.