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November 2, 2007

Clinton at Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:37 PM

Bill Clinton went before a crowd of "several thousand" Microsoft employees in person, and tens of thousands who watched via the company's intranet, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said today in introducing the president to a gaggle of reporters earlier today.

After his remarks to the assembled employees, he took questions and waded into the crowd.

Clinton provided a somewhat unsatisfying response to the biggest question involving his presidency and Microsoft: How does he feel about the outcome of the U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft, initiated during his administration?

"I don't know enough about the outcome to know," Clinton told reporters. "You know, in our administration, we had no contact between the White House and the Justice Department over the enforcement of the law, so, I knew, the first time I heard about the Microsoft case is when I read about it in the paper, literally. I had no knowledge of it.

"And I guess, I'm not dodging, this question. If I knew enough to give you an answer, I would, but, then, since I'm so ignorant about this, there's no point in demonstrating it by giving you an answer that would only show that I don't know what I'm talking about."

Clinton also praised Microsoft for matching employee charitable contributions, which, according to Ballmer reached $72 million this year, up from $63 million last year.

"Companies that can afford to do so should follow this company's lead and match their employees' gifts," Clinton said.

He also thanked Ballmer and Microsoft for the company's support of causes he has championed, including www.ninemillion.org, a United Nations effort to provide an education for 9 million refugee children by 2010.

Echoing themes from his presentation to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle Thursday night, Clinton also highlighted an effort to better measure improvements made to buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The problem is that, believe it or not, even after all these years of dealing with climate change, there is no commonly accepted clear measurement of the impact of specific actions on the problem," he said. "So what Microsoft is doing for us, with Infosys and [the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives], they're developing the baseline so that we can go into every major building and say, 'OK, here's what your carbon footprint is now and then we'll be able to measure every specific thing we do to say how much it's reducing.'"

Clinton devoted most of his comments to answering attacks on Sen. Hillary Clinton during Wednesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate, particularly an implication that President Clinton had attempted to delay releasing archived records from his administration pertaining to his wife.

"It was breathtakingly misleading," Clinton said of questions put to Sen. Clinton by Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" during this week's debate.

Bill Clinton's statements at Microsoft today provoked a response from the Republican National Committee, which alleged, in part, that the Clintons continue to distort the facts and hold back documents.

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