Bill Clinton: Hillary had tough decision on Obama offer

Bill Clinton: Hillary had tough decision on Obama offerWashington  - Senator Hillary Clinton was "shocked" by the possibility that president-elect Barack Obama would consider her for secretary of state and struggled with the decision when the offer came, her husband, former president Bill Clinton, told CNN Wednesday.

"She adored being in the Senate. I think she loved it more than any job she ever had," Clinton said in the interview.

Obama this week nominated his erstwhile bitter rival, Hillary Clinton, as the nation's top diplomat, bringing her high-profile name into his cabinet and helping to heal wounds among Democrats over the long contest for the Democratic Party's nomination.

"I think she was shocked" when she read speculation about the nomination in mid November, her husband said.

In the end, the former president said that Hillary realized serving as secretary of state "was an enormous opportunity to change the country." He believed Obama had made a "very wise decision."

Clinton said that the only downside of Hillary's new duties would be the loss of their personal time together, such as reading books and going to movies.

"She's got a new job, and no more time for that," said the globe- trotting ex-president.

Sketching out his vision of his role if Hillary is confirmed by the Senate for the job, Clinton told CNN in the interview in Hong Kong that he expects to be a "helpful sounding board" for his wife.

"But I don't think I'll do any more than that," he said. "I really care about all these profound challenges that our country and the world are facing. But the decisions will have to be ultimately president-elect Obama's decisions."

Clinton said that he would remain in the background unless Obama "asks me to do something specifically, which I'm neither looking forward to nor closed to."

Sitting presidents often call on predecessors to lead special missions, such as the one Clinton and George Bush, father of the current president, headed up to raise money to help victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

One of the conditions of her nomination set by the Obama team was that globe-trotting Bill Clinton, who gave CNN the interview in Hong Kong, disclose his charitable foundation's estimated 200,000 donors, who reportedly include foreign interests.

Clinton said he had agreed to the conditions to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest that donors might try to influence US international policy - even though the move would be "over and above what the law requires."

"If she is going to be secretary of state, and I operate globally and I have people who contribute to these efforts globally, I think that it's important to make it totally transparent," the former president said.

The disclosure of contributors was one of nine conditions Clinton signed off on during discussions with Obama's transition team, The New York Times reported last week.

Other concessions included separate incorporation of the Clinton Global Initiative from his foundation, so he has less direct involvement. The initiative will no longer meet outside the US or accept foreign government donations, the Times wrote, quoting unnamed sources close to Obama.

The former president is to submit advance copies of his speeches and business activities for State Department and possibly White House review.

Bill Clinton routinely collects six-figure fees for speaking to foreign organizations. He travels the world for both business and charitable events, activities that could raise questions while his wife is leading US foreign policy.

Some of his donors have included the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, the governments of Kuwait and Qatar and a tycoon who is the son-in-law of Ukraine's former authoritarian president, the Times reported. (dpa)