Franklin Graham, the late evangelist's son, met Clinton when he arrived. They walked down a path to his father's boyhood home, where he was lying in repose, on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.
After his viewing, Clinton told reporters he agreed with those who cautioned Graham against his close relationships with presidents.
"But don't forget, those of us who are Christians believe in a God of second chances, and the politicians need those more than anybody else," Clinton said. "You've got to cut him a little slack for trying to give a willing ear and an open heart and without regard to his political preferences."
Clinton also shared his remembrances of seeing the influential pastor as a child at one of Graham's crusades in Little Rock, Ark.
"Hillary and I were glad to have him in the White House a couple of times, but mostly I was glad to see that in that little room he was the same person I saw when I was 11 at that great big football field," Clinton said. "That says a lot. I think he was a profoundly good man who conveyed simple beliefs, that we can claim kinship with God by asking ...
"He showed his faith by his works and by his life. And, for me, every time I think about him I'll be 11 again."
On Wednesday and Thursday, Graham's body will lie in the U.S. Capitol rotunda before his funeral on Friday.
President Donald Trump plans to attend the funeral in Charlotte.