Bill Clinton on Trump: 'The most interesting character out there'

What role does Bill Clinton have in the campaign?
What role does Bill Clinton have in the campaign?

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    What role does Bill Clinton have in the campaign?

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What role does Bill Clinton have in the campaign? 02:41

Story highlights

  • Bill Clinton explained why he thought Trump, Sanders were doing so well
  • The former president denied encouraging Trump to run

(CNN)Asked by Stephen Colbert who he likes in the 2016 election -- with the comedian joking, "And please, try to be impartial here" -- President Bill Clinton quipped, "The lady I saw singing on Saturday Night Live," referencing Hillary Clinton's turn on the sketch comedy show over the weekend.

"That Val woman was wonderful," Colbert remarked, to which Clinton shot back, "Made me want to take a drink with her."
In this image released by CBS, President Bill Clinton, left, appears with host Stephen Colbert during a taping of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
The former president appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Tuesday night, and in addition to joking about his wife's presidential campaign, Clinton offered his take on the rise of insurgent candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and dismissed rumors that he was responsible for Trump's decision to run.
    Unlike some of his other high profile political interviews, such as those with Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 candidates Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, the late night host conducted a mild conversation with Clinton. The two spent more time discussing Hillary Clinton's challengers than her own presidential bid.
    Colbert asked Clinton, dubbed the "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" by Obama during the 2012 election, to explain why both Sanders' and Trump's presidential campaigns were doing so well.
    Regarding Trump, Clinton offered some backhanded praise, complimenting him as a "master brander." He suggested that the GOP frontrunner's success has come because "he's the most interesting character out there." The former president highlighted the appeal of Trump's brusque, politically incorrect styling, recalling that during the first debate, "Trump said 'OK, I supported Democrats, I supported Republicans, yeah I was friends with Bill Clinton -- who cares.'"
    Paraphrasing Trump, Clinton continued, "'I run things, and I build things, and you need somebody who will go in there and fix it, and if they don't fix it I'll get them out of the way.' It may have a short half-life his campaign -- I can't tell yet. But he is a master brander and there is a macho appeal to saying, 'I'm just sick of nothing happening, I make things happen, vote for me.'"
    And on Sanders, Clinton suggested that the Vermont senator's success reflects the increasingly polarized American electorate.
    "A lot of people believe that the Republicans have been rewarded for -- they reward the people that go furthest to the right, so the Democrats would be even more effective if they moved further to the left," he argued, in what was perhaps a subtle dig at questions surrounding Sanders' electability.
    Clinton also sought to dispel conspiracy theories that he urged Trump to run for president in the first place.
    "I get credit for doing a lot of things I didn't do like that," he said. "I had a very pleasant conversation with him and it wasn't about running for office. So I missed a chance."