This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 20, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY: Ok now President Obama, his chances to be re-elected are, I would say 50/50 at this point. Would that be fair?
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I think they are a little better than that.
O'REILLY: Why -- why would you think that when most of the polls show his approval in the low 40s and most people 60 percent feel the country is heading in the wrong direction.
CLINTON: Because his approval is up in the last few weeks and because of this payroll tax where he's for it and it looks like the House may not be.
O'REILLY: Yes but that's transient.
CLINTON: Their approval rating is down to 11 percent. I think -- I think and let me also say because I think he is out there running against himself now. As soon as he gets an opponent it will be for the next four years, who do you think is more likely take us in the right direction?
O'REILLY: No but he-- it's going to be -- I think it's going to be a referendum in President Obama anyway no matter who it is. You worked with Newt Gingrich? You respect him?
CLINTON: I respect his ability to think and do and I eventually hammered out a little reproductive relationship with him.
O'REILLY: Do you respect him as a man?
CLINTON: I don't disrespect anybody who works with me in good faith. I think he was way more political than I would have been. He -- he's defended what he called "scorched earth" politics and I certainly was the beneficiary of it. But I think that --
O'REILLY: Did he use unfair tactics on you?
CLINTON: It depends on, you know -- not in his mind.
O'REILLY: In your mind?
CLINTON: I don't think about it like that. I either liked it or I didn't.
O'REILLY: Was he an enemy of yours while you were in the White House?
CLINTON: Until he got to be Speaker and until the government shutdown changed the public mood.
CLINTON: Yes we worked together for five years.
O'REILLY: Would you would you vote for him?
CLINTON: No I'm going to vote for Obama.
O'REILLY: And why wouldn't you vote -- or just take the President out of the equation, again a good Democrat. Why wouldn't you vote for Newt Gingrich? Why -- why would you not cast a ballot for him?
CLINTON: I can't take that out of the equation. I believe in a whole different direction in energy policy. I think the President has done a good job on foreign policy. And I think that we've got a better economic strategy now going than one is he likely to implement.
I thought the best thing he said in the campaign though Gingrich was what he said two debates ago in the foreign policy debate that how this immigration issue should be handled. Then the very next day he said he didn't like the Ninth Circuit decision, so he just wanted to get rid of the Ninth Circuit and then he mentioned some other decisions. And then he's going to fire federal judge so --
O'REILLY: He's on this program tonight Gingrich. He is coming up right behind you.
CLINTON: I bet he'll be very entertaining.
O'REILLY: Well we've challenged him on that.
CLINTON: But anyway, I -- let me just say this, when we were working together, I enjoyed it. And I think he has a lot of knowledge and I think he comes up with some quite creative ideas. The primary, the purpose of the primary is to test everybody's strengths and weaknesses.
O'REILLY: Yes the middle.
CLINTON: And everybody has strengths and weaknesses. And this is actually got an interesting dynamic between -- now between Newt Gingrich and Governor Romney.
O'REILLY: What about Romney? Do you know him?
CLINTON: A little bit. I always, unlike you, I like the Massachusetts health care bill. And the Massachusetts system is more expensive than the rest of America. But it was before the health care bill passed. And inflation and health care costs in Massachusetts have been less than in the country as a whole since it passed.
O'REILLY: Ok if you had to vote between Romney and Gingrich -- if you snuck up to New Hampshire because anybody can vote in that primary you go for?
CLINTON: I am not going to get in that Republican primary. No, no way. You could ask me any kind --
O'REILLY: All right.
CLINTON: I also like Huntsman, you know. And if I voted for him I would be in the one percent. But he arguably has the most consistently conservative economic record of anybody.