Mr. Clinton's Mission

He Talks To <b>Dan Rather</b> About His Work, Hillary, & Mr. Bush

It ended up looking a little like a political campaign event. But Clinton seemed pleased and surprised when he met some of the 100 children his foundation is treating. Soon, Clinton's foundation hopes to be treating nearly 10,000 kids in China.

Clinton says if these children don't get the medication, they'll all die. "They could all live normal lives. Virtually all of them can be saved," he says.

But not without medication. Clinton's foundation was able to convince companies in India to sell AIDS drugs very cheaply, for just $230 per child per year. The price surprised 60 Minutes, and when we caught up later with Mr. Clinton in his New York office, we wanted to find out why he can't negotiate the same price from American companies.

"We're in Harlem doing this interview. And there's an AIDS center right around the corner, which I visited. All those people get medicine under the Medicaid program if they can't afford it, at $10,000 a person a year," says Clinton.

Are the drug companies price-gouging for AIDS medicines?

"Their view is they're protecting their intellectual property," Clinton says. "Well, in my mind, I think they could sell them for a lot less without losing money. I do think that."

American companies do charge less overseas for their drugs, sometimes far less, but so far they have not matched the price Clinton negotiated in India. With lower prices and small staffs, Mr. Clinton says that foundations like his and the one run by Bill Gates can be more efficient and cost-effective fighting AIDS than some government programs. But he also acknowledges that AIDS worldwide spread dramatically while he was president and that President Bush has poured much more money than his administration did into the fight against the disease.

Does he wish he had done more during his presidency?

"Well, I don't think I could have done more. It was like pulling teeth to get any foreign money out of Congress when I was there. And when they had a president of their own party and they had their core Christian conservative constituents saying, 'Okay, we want to fight this,' then it became much easier. I wish I could have gotten more, but I don't believe I could have," says Clinton.

Since we were talking about President Bush, we decided to switch gears and ask Mr. Clinton about all the work he's doing these days for the Republican administration.

Clinton acknowledges his work with Republicans his unusual but says he doesn't think it's strange. "Former President Bush is someone I have admired always, including when I ran against him," says Clinton.

Which is why, Clinton says, he agreed to work on tsunami relief and Katrina hurricane relief with former President Bush.

"In the process of doing this, I spent more time around the current President Bush. And again, I never held it against him for being mad at me for beating his dad. I thought that was a good thing for a son to feel. And I never held it against him that he sees the world very differently than I do and we disagree on a whole raft of things," says Clinton.