BRENTWOOD, New Hampshire — In an exclusive interview with MTV News, former President Bill Clinton admitted Senator Hillary Clinton and her campaign made a mistake in underestimating the youth vote in Iowa — where Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic caucus last week — but said the same thing won’t happen in New Hampshire.
“I think historically young people have not voted in the Iowa caucus because they are from other states,” the former president told MTV News on Saturday night. “This time we had a lot of students who did come back and I think, frankly, thousands and and thousands of them were from Illinois and wanted to support Senator Obama, and they had a very aggressive outreach. And … we haven’t made that mistake here; we’ve reached out to young people here just as much as he has, and I think we just have to keep trying.”
And Hillary will need to keep trying to court the crucial youth vote until the citizens of New Hampshire vote on Tuesday: While polls on Saturday showed similar numbers for Clinton and rival Barack Obama, a CNN/WMUR poll on Sunday (January 6) found Obama opening up a wide lead — approximately 10 points at press time.
Even though most of the young voters who turned out in Iowa caucused for his wife’s rival, Bill Clinton is still thrilled that so many young people stood up to be counted, and he thinks he knows why.
“I think they know they have a big stake in this,” he said. “I think they want us to address climate change. I think they want America to be respected and supported in the world again and I think they really didn’t like the feeling they’ve had for the last seven years and they want their future to be brighter. I don’t think it is very complicated.”
Clinton has been on the campaign trail in New Hampshire for his wife, showing up at events across the state with and without her. Hillary Clinton was preparing for a debate when we caught up with the former president. He made a prepared speech to an over-capacity crowd of a few hundred Hillary supporters, fans of Bill and curious onlookers before answering questions and signing autographs for almost an hour.
“I love these town hall meetings,” he said with a smile that hinted back to the former glory of his own days on the trail — but then said he wouldn’t want to do it all over again.
“Not at all! I’m just happy to help her,” he said. “I had my eight years and I did the best I could and I’m very grateful. And if people elect her I’ll do whatever I can to help her. But she is the best candidate for president I have ever had the chance to vote for, both because of the variety of things she’s done to help people in their lives and the good she’s done and the experience she’s had. She’s very well-suited for this moment in time, so it is fun for me to be campaigning for her.”
Stay tuned for more coverage of the New Hampshire primary throughout the week on MTV News.