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Bill Clinton In Chicago: Occupy Wall Street Movement Can Create 'Good Positive Debate' (VIDEO)

Bill Clinton

First Posted: 10/12/11 05:54 PM ET Updated: 12/12/11 05:12 AM ET

Former President Bill Clinton spoke Tuesday evening as part of Chicago Ideas Week at a sold-out event at the city's Chase Auditorium.

In conversation with Time managing editor Richard Stengel, Clinton addressed a number of topics -- including the economy and Steve Jobs' passing -- but in the midst of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, including a series of protests in Chicago, Clinton couldn't help but offer his opinion on the demonstrations.

That opinion seemed to be more favorable than the comments Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shared at another Ideas Week event the previous evening. The former president went so far as to compare the protests to the Arab Spring.

"The Occupy Wall Street crowd basically is saying, 'I'm unemployed and the people that caused this have their jobs again and their bonuses again and their incomes are high again. There's something wrong with this country. This is not working for me,'" Clinton said, the Chicago Tribune reports. "So I think it can be a good positive debate."

Clinton, who will release a new book, his third, titled "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy" next month, also addressed the nation's political climate more generally, stating that Washington, D.C., has become increasingly polarized since he left office in 2001. He says that polarization, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports, has contributed to a "political paralysis" in the nation's capitol.

"America has overcome all these prejudices we had. We're not nearly as gender-biased as we used to be, We're not nearly as racist as we used to be. We're not as anti-gay as we used to be," Clinton said. "The only bigotry we’ve got left is: we don't want to be around anybody who disagrees with us."

Clinton also touched on the passing of Steve Jobs, the chairman and CEO of Apple. He described Jobs, with whom he reportedly spoke shortly before he died, as "a very determined man" who "probably had the most intense powers of concentration I ever saw."

WATCH former President Bill Clinton discuss Steve Jobs' battle with cancer Tuesday evening:

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

Check out President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the Republican presidential candidates' reactions to the Occupy Wall Street movement:
Mitt Romney
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Speaking to small crowd at a retirement community in Florida on Oct. 4, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed an unsympathetic view of the Occupy Wall Street movement. "I think it's dangerous, this class warfare," he said. Romney declined to comment further when asked about the protests by ABC. His response? "I'm just trying to get myself to occupy the White House."

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire Oct. 10 Romney was a bit more sympathetic. "I worry about the 99 percent in America," he said, later adding, "I understand how those people feel."
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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |