Face in the News: Bill Clinton and panel

Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at Florida International University for President Barack Obama on September 11, 2012 in Miami.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Kicking off the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, former President Bill Clinton sat down with Bob Schieffer to discuss Governor Mitt Romney's recent '47 percent' remarks, the candidate's latest tax returns release, and the possibility of a presidential run for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Clinton defended President Obama's progress towards economic recovery and referred to Romney's policies as a "militant, anti-government" approach. "If they enact $5 trillion more in tax cuts, we'll never get out of this debt hole and when the interest rates start to rise as they will when the economy grows, we're going to be in a world of hurt," Clinton said.

A complete economic turnaround would be impossible in just one term, Clinton said. "I think that people will see that unless they believe that somehow magically somebody could have brought us back to full employment in four years. I just don't believe it could've happened."

When asked about Romney's recently released tax returns, Clinton compared the candidate's income tax rate to the struggling economy. "I don't think we can get out of this hole we're in if people at that income level only pay 13, 14 percent," Clinton said. "It'd be interesting, I think, for the American people to see how the ordinary income years were treated, but apparently we're not going to get to see that. So the voters are just going to have to their judgments about that."

In regards to Romney's controversial comments at a private fundraiser where he referred to 47 percent of Americans as victims, Clinton said that he knows "a lot of higher income people" who "say things like that" but suggested that Romney made the comments because of his push to appeal to conservatives during the Republican primary.

"The primary they ran kept pushing them all to the right," Clinton said. "You don't purge all of that out of your system when you start running in the general election."

When asked if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would run for president in 2016, Clinton said, "I don't know. You know, she's worked hard for 20 years...and she's tired. She's worked really hard." He added, "She's an extraordinarily able person. I've never met anybody I thought was a better public servant. But I have no earthly idea what she'll decide to do."

Clinton said if she does decide to run that he will support her decision. "Whatever she does, I'm for her first, last and always," he said. "Whatever she wanted me to do, I would. But you know, who knows? It's her decision, her life. But whatever she decides, I'll support it."

(Read more about the conversation with former President Bill Clinton in New York Magazine, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg, New York Times, The Telegraph, The Hill, Mediaite, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, National Journal, Politico, USA Today, Daily Beast, Los Angeles Times, National Review, BuzzFeed, TIME, and Slate)

Later in the show, the journalist roundtable including Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal, TIME's Richard Stengel, political analyst David Gergen, David Corn of Mother Jones, and CBS News' John Dickerson discussed the latest setbacks in the Romney campaign.

Noonan, who referred to the Romney campaign as a "rolling calamity" in an op-ed last week, said that despite some conservative criticism of her column, some Republicans supported her stance.

"What was interesting to me, however, was that privately, the constant communication I got was, thank you for saying that they need help at the Romney campaign, they need to be woken up, they need to raise their game," Noonan said.

Gergen said that Romney has the chance to bounce back from slipping polls in the upcoming presidential debates. "I don't think the game is over yet. I think what Mitt Romney needs is a game-changer in the first debate," Gergen said. "It is very close in the national polls and slipping away from him in the battleground states and that puts pressure on him going into these debates."

(Check out more on the panel in New York Magazine and Salon)

Watch the full episode of this week's Face the Nation.