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Redford: Women, young people must save U.S. from men 'behaving stupidly'

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 3:24 PM EDT, Wed October 16, 2013
  • President Obama "can't function" now in Washington, Robert Redford says
  • The actor says some in Congress are "crippling our whole country"
  • Redford sat down with CNN's Nischelle Turner to talk about his new film, "All Is Lost"
  • He plays a lone sailor struggling to stay alive after his sailboat is crippled by a collision

(CNN) -- Robert Redford says bigotry, fear of change and a determination to personally destroy President Barack Obama have paralyzed the U.S. government.

Women and young people are the answer to fixing the gridlock that has partially shut down Washington, the actor told CNN on Tuesday.

"Give them the reins," Redford said. "I think they can do better than we have."

Redford, 77, sat down with CNN's Nischelle Turner to talk about his new film, "All Is Lost," which he agreed could serve as an analogy to the shutdown crisis.

In the movie, Redford plays a lone sailor struggling to stay alive after his sailboat is crippled by a collision with a container ship.

Redford: Why government is 'paralyzed'
2012: Redford's views on politics

"At a certain point, I think, when things really get awful, when things get really bad and all seems to be lost -- there's no hope, there's no possibility -- then a lot of people quit," Redford said about his character. "They say, 'What's the point?' and they quit. And others keep going for no other reason than that."

Opinion: Men dither while women lead

Redford: 'Why are these people behaving so stupidly?'

The conversation then turned to the drama playing out in Washington, where a standoff between Obama and Republicans in Congress has forced the federal government into a partial shutdown and threatened a default on the U.S. debt.

"It's so divided now with the people that are so narrow and so limited that they would take us back into the past," Redford said. "And I was trying to figure out, why are these people behaving so stupidly? Why are they behaving so horribly that it's crippling our whole country?

"And I think it has to do with fear. I think it's a group of people that are so afraid of change, and they're so narrow-minded that some people -- when they see change coming -- get so threatened by change, they get angry and they get terrorized, and then they get vicious. I think that's who these people are. They're so afraid of change that they're behaving miserably."

Obama is "a compassionate man who can't function" in this political environment, Redford said. It "is so decrepit, it is so paralyzed, and the worst of it is it is paralyzed by intention," he said. "There is a body of congressional people that wants to paralyze the system. I think what sits underneath it, unfortunately, is there's probably some racism involved, which is really awful."

Obama's opponents reject whatever he might propose "because their determination was to destroy this person," Redford said. "They wanted, if it meant destroying the government, anything to keep him from succeeding.

"I think just the idea of giving credit to this President, giving him credit for anything, is abhorrent to them, so they'll go against it. Never mind that it's the better good of the people, never mind that they're supposed to be in office representing the interest of the public. They're representing their own self-interests, which is very narrow and in some cases bigoted."

America's problem: We're too dumb

Redford: All is not lost

But, unlike his latest film title, all is not lost, Redford said. He said "something new" is starting to happen that offers hope.

"Susan Collins, who is a Republican, is saying: 'Enough of this. This is not the job I signed up for. I've got to do something,' " said Redford, referring to the U.S. senator from Maine. "So she's bringing a bipartisan group together of women. I think the future should belong more to women and young people."

Women must save the country "because a lot of men that were in control were behaving stupidly," Redford said. "I mean, sometimes you say: 'Can we actually be this dumbed down, or am I actually hearing what I'm hearing from some of these people? Are they really, is that really happening?' It's sad."

Does this mean Redford is already throwing his support behind Hillary Clinton in a 2016 White House bid?

"No, I wouldn't single out one woman over another," he said. "I think it's time to give more women a chance."

"All Is Lost," which is almost a silent movie, with its sparse dialogue, hits U.S. theaters next week.

Sundance 2013: Redford answers conservative critics

CNN's Doug Ganley contributed to this report.

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