Former President Bill Clinton advised Democrats today not to underestimate the possibility that Sarah Palin could be a powerful candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, citing her resiliency and calling her a "a compelling, attractive figure" who knows how to appeal to her conservative base.
"It's always a mistake to underestimate your opponent," Mr. Clinton said, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America. "I do think she's a resilient character. And we may be entering a sort of period in politics that's sort of fact free, where the experience in government is a negative."
Mr. Clinton, who was on the show to promote the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative, did not directly weigh in on Palin's presidential qualifications, but said he thought the former Alaska governor is "somebody to be reckoned with."
"She's tough," he said, adding that the American people "can elect whomever they want."
"I think she's clearly a public figure... who speaks well and persuasively to the people who listen to her."
Clinton also sympathized with the Obama administration's plight in the upcoming midterm elections, saying that while he thought the president's strategy of "taking the grief of the country on himself" was "a good way to do it," he believed the president could be more clear in enumerating his legislative priorities over the next several years.
"I'd like to see him do something I didn't do [in 1994]," Mr. Clinton said. "I'd like to see him say, 'Here's what I think this election's about. The only thing that matters is what we're going to do now. Here are the three things I think we ought to do now. Here's why I think our side's more likely to do it...Give us two more years...If we don't do better, you can vote against us all, and I'll be on the ballot, too."
"I know a lot of people are mad and a lot of people are tired - apathetic," Mr. Clinton said, "and I respect that... It's okay to be mad. But make a choice based on what we should now, and who's more likely to do it."
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.