Nightly News   |  December 06, 2013

Mandela’s advice to Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton spoke to NBC’s Brian Williams about the loss of his friend, Nelson Mandela, and the legacy he leaves behind for the rest of the world.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning in new york i spoke with former president bill clinton about the loss of his friend nelson mandela , and the legacy he leaves behind for the rest of the world .

>> mandela lived in a global age of communications. he basically lit up the world with with the fact that he seemed to move effortlessly through life with with a smile on his face and a genuine concern for ordinary people along with his heavy duties. every day he got up and found the strength to leave his anger, hurt, regrets behind.

>> reporter: what's the most indelible time of all the personal time -- and you had some intense personal time with him? is there any one you can separate out?

>> yes. one day when i was having all this conflicts with republicans in congress we were talking. i was glad to see him. i said, you know, it was a good thing did inviting your jailers to your inauguration and the reconciliation stuff, but how did you get there? he said, i remember it clearly. one day i realized that they had taken ab everything they could take from me. they had abused me physically and emotionally, kept me from seeing my children grow up, destroyed my marriage. i realized they could take everything except my mind and my heart. he said, those things i would have to give away. i decided not to give them away. then he smiled at me and he said, neither should you.

>> where do you rank him perhaps through the towering figures of the last hundred years?

>> i think he and gandhi and in america martin luther king are in a category by themselves. gandhi and king were martyred. the agonizinge ordeal of nelson mandela for 27 years and how he came out a better man than he went in captured the imagination of people as nothing else had. his enduring power is that he showed us that there is true freedom in forgiveness. and in the mental and emotional discipline to live in the present and think of the future.

>> part of our conversation with the former president from his home this morning. by the way, the clintons will join the obamas along with george w. bush and laura bush at nelson mandela 's memorial services in south africa . president bush senior is unable to make the journey. former president carter has yet to release his plans.