Clinton made the remarks during a keynote address to Jesse Jackson's 32nd annual Rainbow/PUSH Conference in Chicago on Tuesday.
Clinton warned the crowd of Jackson supporters to never stoop to the "demoniz[ing] tactics of right-wing talk-show hosts."
"Let us never demonize or give up on those who disagree with us. We don't want to become like the right-wing talk-show hosts, hammering our adversaries into cartoon characters and denying their humanity," Clinton told the conference.
Clinton said the guiding principle of his political life has been an attempt to emulate the Founding Fathers' goal of forming "a more perfect union." Striving for that goal helped him achieve an "amazing and completely improbable life," he said.
"Sometimes I think I have no idea how I got to be president, and I am sure the people who oppose me don't either," he commented.
Clinton lambasted President Bush for cutting taxes and cutting numerous social programs, including an after school program that Clinton launched during his presidency.
"We are going to put half-a-million [children] out on the street, so I can get my $80,000 [tax cut]," Clinton said, referring to the amount he expects to save under the Bush tax-cut plan. President Clinton reportedly earned $9.5 million in 2002 in speaking fees alone.
'They ought to audit me'
Clinton bragged that he loved paying taxes.
"I must be the only person in America that every time -- I pay the maximum tax rates -- every time I sign that tax form, I smile. I thank God I live in a country that gave me a chance to make the money I do," Clinton said.
In addition to his professed fondness for paying taxes, Clinton said he wants to be audited annually. "I think they ought to audit me and everyone in my income group every year, because if I make a mistake, I actually think they can make some real money out of me and I want to pay what I owe," he declared.
"Most people I grew up with in Arkansas never made that much money in a year," Clinton said, again referring to the extra $80,000 he estimates he'll receive under the Bush tax-cut plan. "They worked just as hard as I did and paid their taxes and served their country in the military, raised their children and did everything they could to be right," he lamented.
Clinton reaffirmed his support for affirmative action and said the Bush administrations policies "may extend forever the need for affirmative action."
Clinton's analysis of the 2002 mid-term election was blunt.
"We lost the last Congressional elections -- my party did -- because their people wanted to vote more than our people," he said.
He then urged the crowd to flip the Rainbow/PUSH name, to help make a political difference in 2004. "You are America's rainbow. Push, push," he said.
'A liberal idea'
Clinton thanked Jesse Jackson for his "constant personal friendship to me, Hillary and Chelsea in the years I was president." Jackson counseled Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment proceedings in Clinton's second term.
For his part, Jackson seemed gleeful that Clinton was "in the house," and he held up the former president as the embodiment of the American dream.
"America is a liberal idea. America is a dream possible. A great source of that dream today, brothers and sister, is President Bill Clinton," Jackson said to a standing ovation.
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