Hillary Clinton's former presidential campaign manager has labelled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a "superstar".

John Podesta, who was the White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a counsellor to President Barack Obama, told Newstalk ZB's Heather Du Plessis-Allan that Ardern had given hope to social democrats all around the world.

"She's made an impression on the world. She's somebody that people are paying attention to.

"I think they look to her as someone who has found a way to directly connect and make people feel like they are bonded to their political leader," he said.


"I think she combines an approach that is dealing with building a fair, more inclusive, more sustainable economy with someone who is exciting and young and brings her baby to the United Nations."

Podesta said he thought it was "great" that Ardern had taken Neve to the United Nations.

He said the Democrats would be wise to take a leaf out of Ardern's book.

"They need to be comfortable in their own skin, authentic, telling their own story, giving the reason why they understand what's happening to families in America and why people feel like the system is rigged for the top and not working in their favour and they have to draw from their own experience to do that.

"They [voters] want to know how you are going to approach things, react to things, feel things and I think she [Ardern] has been pretty good at that so far."

Podesta also gave his views on United States President Donald Trump, saying he is "completely unfit and unqualified to be President of the United States".

He said there is a huge amount of division within politics - and Trump was an example of that.

"You see it with the building of the wall. It's largely a politics of fear and a politics of racism and add to that his misogyny and it's a toxic mix."

John Podesta was the White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and counsellor to President Barack Obama.
John Podesta was the White House Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and counsellor to President Barack Obama.

However, he said Trump's fan base seems to be unshakeable, regardless of what happens.

"He has his core of support and they have stuck with him. No matter what's going on... people who love him, continue to love him and I think they love him for who he is which is kind of outrageous."

Podesta said the real question was who could successfully prosecute a case against him.

However, when asked whether trying to prosecute Trump was the wrong strategy, he said the Democrats were in a tricky position, but they could not ignore criminal acts.

"The Democrats in the House do have some responsibility to make sure the justice system is functional.

"I don't think people can look the other way from criminal acts.

"His national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, his senior policy adviser have all pleaded guilty to criminal acts."

Podesta also commented on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, saying he was one of the first White House staff members to find out about it.

The Clinton–Lewinsky scandal came to light in 1998 and involved former President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

At the time, Podesta was working as the Deputy Chief of staff and said his first thought was to not believe the accusations.

"I think that while the actions by the President were wrong, I think the American public elected him as President and stuck by him because he was doing a great job and I felt the same way."

He was put in charge of handling the scandal and said his job was to make sure none of the Government's work stopped because of it.

"My principal role was to do two things, one was to make sure the people who had managed the problem in the White House...did there job but that most of the work of the White House, all of the work really, stayed on track.

"So my job was to discipline people and say, look the American people elected him to do work for them and that's why you're here.

"That's what we did and I think that's why the American people stayed with him," he said.

Podesta said he did what he thought was the right thing for the American people.

He also spoke about his personal Gmail account being hacked in March 2016.

When asked whether it was awkward, Podesta said he "wouldn't recommend it".

"Whenever anyone asks me what's my biggest piece of advice going into the next election I say; 'don't get your emails hacked by the Russians'," he said.

"Was it awkward? You know I'm kind of a boring guy at the end of the day so there wasn't too much I was really embarrassed by."

However, he stood behind his belief that he thought some journalists "were pricks".

"I do think some journalists are pricks, I proudly stand behind that."

When asked about his interest in UFOs which was revealed in his emails, he said there is no doubt there is life outside our planet.

"So the question is whether the UFOs have visited our planet."

When asked whether he thinks they have visited earth, he said "probably".

"The US Government for a long time studied these phenomena. My own view is that as much as that information... as possible should be released to the public."