Bill Clinton: He knew that it would be unpopular in Arkansas. You know, we’re just a state dominated by the Scotch-Irish, who provided 25 percent of all the soldiers who ever fought in uniform for America since the revolution. One of our counties had the highest fatality rate of any county in America in World War II. A lot of poor African American kids were in the military, and their parents didn’t want to know it was for nothing.
I mean it was like an across-the-board challenge, and he believed — he had a very clear view of it, and I thought it was unusual because Fulbright had been more willing than I wish he had been to trim his sails on civil rights for a long time. And he said, “Yes, I disagree with them on that too,” but he said, “If you want to be a representative, and they know something, as much about something as you do — and they do on this — sometimes you have to give in.”
“But on this, if I know more than they do, I am doing an immoral thing to preserve my political position at the expense of doing what’s right for their children over the long run.” And in the end, it played a significant role in the undoing of his career, but he did an enormous service to the country in the meantime. And I think — he lived to be 87 — he lived long enough for me to become president and give him the Medal of Freedom, and I think he died at peace with himself and the decision he made.