Hillary Clinton photo

Interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC

February 02, 2016

MATTHEWS: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. It was quite a night last night and I was taken with your moment of candor there before the cameras when you said, you had a sigh of relief. Tell us about that sigh of relief and what it meant to you.

CLINTON: Right. Oh, Chris, it meant the world to me. As we all remember, I was not successful in Iowa last time and I know how hard that caucus process is. So proud of our organization, our volunteers, all my supporters. Everybody said if there were a big turnout, that would advantage Senator Sanders. There was a big turnout, and we won. And now I'm in New Hampshire looking forward to the primary next Tuesday and continuing to make my case in this contest of ideas between me and the senator.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, "The New York Times" ran this story this morning that you were disappointed, and I think it's possible to be both disappointed and relieved. You could have been disappointed at 9:00 but very relieved at 11:00. I mean, the times change during the course as the results come in. Are both those possible? You thought you could have done better with your field operation but you're also glad you came out ahead?

CLINTON: Look, Chris, I really believe that during the last few weeks leading up to the caucus, I could feel the energy building. It's a tough process and what I was seeing on the ground as people were telling me they were changing their minds, that they were supporting me, what my organizers were reporting, was all consistent that it was going to be close, but if we did our work, and we did, we would win. So I was thrilled by winning and getting that boost out of Iowa here in New Hampshire where I am in Senator Sanders' backyard, as you know, as a political expert of your many years, that New Hampshire votes for neighbors. And so I have to really get out there, make my case, which I intend to do this week.

MATTHEWS: I just love the way you snuck that in. It's his backyard, therefore he has an advantage geographically and we shouldn't put too much stock into it. But let me ask you about this, because I'm looking at these polls. There's a range in the polling over the last couple weeks in New Hampshire and it is his back yard. Look at the map, it's Vermont and New Hampshire right next to each other, twin there. Between 6 and 33 points he's got a lead on you up there, and I wonder how much ground you can make in a week, because we only have a week now.

CLINTON: I feel really good about my campaign in New Hampshire and I remember getting off the plane in New Hampshire after the Iowa caucuses last time where I did not win, and I was way behind going into what was then just five days before the primary. And the work that was done on my behalf, the people who came out to support me, the incredible excitement — I saw that today in Nashua. I got here, it was amazing, Chris. The level of enthusiasm, people who were with me before, people who were with President Obama in '08, everybody working so hard to support me, to get to that primary, to do everything we possibly can. We're not leaving anything on the ground. We're moving forward. And I think we'll do well.

MATTHEWS: I think everybody should have been impressed. Maybe I wasn't as impressed as I should have been, but everybody should have been, about the way you handled New Hampshire last time around. You came off the loss in Iowa. You went out there and you would stand there — it was like Bill Clinton staying there until the last dog died. You were out there on that arena, I remember you standing in a, I think it was a field house, and you went on and on and on. It went on for five hours. It was incredible. It was a marathon, answering every single question of everyone in that room. It really was a physical — a marathon. Are you going to try to match that performance this time, that kind of "I can do this" thing?

CLINTON: I'm going to do everything I can to get out there, to meet with folks here, to answer their questions. I'm really happy we've got a forum on CNN tomorrow night. We've got your MSNBC debate on Thursday night, which will give us a chance to reach a larger audience. But I'm going to be there day after day between now and Tuesday. I respect this primary process. I know how seriously people take it. And I just want them to understand what I'm offering, what I believe we can do. You know, ideas that sound good on paper but can't create results for people are just that, good ideas on paper. I have a track record of producing results. I know how to do all parts of this job. Because we're going to be voting for both a president and a commander in chief. And in New Hampshire, those two sides of this incredibly difficult job are really joined together. And I feel good about the opportunity I'll have to get out, meet with granite staters, make my case, and I'm going to do everything possible to get them to support me next Tuesday.

MATTHEWS: I know you've been saying nice things about your only opponent now. It's really a battle since Martin O'Malley, Governor O'Malley has withdrawn. It's a two-person race. The only person, and I'm going to say this bluntly — the only person between a confirmed socialist who's calling for political revolution in this country, winning the nomination of the Democratic party, which has always been more moderate than that, is you. So when you saw that rally last night, the young people all around Senator Sanders, when he yelled revolution out there and they all applauded like mad, do you think that's something that is going to help in a general election, or are we looking at, what we used to call in the 60s, an NDC campaign — November doesn't count. We just want to win the party, we don't care about the general. You seem to be focused on the general. How do you beat a person who's coming along in the primaries, however, who's saying, I'm going to give you all the things you want, free tuition, more social security benefits without an increase in your taxes, healthcare from birth to death, all government paid. How do you compete with a revolution of promises, really?

CLINTON: Well first, let me say, I am thrilled, too, that we've got young people getting active in the campaign on the Democratic side. I was very proud of the many, many young people working for me, volunteering for me, voting, caucusing for me in Iowa, and the ones I have here in New Hampshire, I'm just so impressed with. So that's a net good no matter what. I do think that we have an obligation to keep people focused on what's at stake in this election, and you got close to saying it, Chris. We can't let the Republicans rip away the progress we've made. We can't let them go back to trickle-down economics, repeal the affordable care act, we can't let them stack the supreme court for another generation against common sense kind of changes that we need. We've got to get back to the middle, we've got to get back to the big center, we've got to get back to solving problems. That's how we make progress in America. I am proud to be in a line of Democratic presidents who just got in there and fought it out, who got civil rights, who got an economy producing high incomes, who got, finally, the affordable care act, something we've been fighting for since Harry Truman. I know how hard this is and I totally appreciate how exciting it can be to be involved in a campaign that really just puts out these great big ideas. But I want folks to stop and think, no matter what age you are, OK, we agree on getting the economy going. We agree on raising incomes, we agree on combating climate change, we agree on universal coverage. Who has the track record? Who's gotten the results? Who can actually produce the kind of change you want for yourself and your family and for our country? So I'm very energized about this because I like a contest of ideas. That's what politics should be about. We're going to be talking about and arguing about issues on our side, they're going to keep insulting each other on the Republican side, but the goal for any sensible American has to be, do not turn the white house over to the Republicans in November. Do not turn the supreme court further over to their nominees. We can't let that happen.

MATTHEWS: Well, of course, I think you're offering a lesson in civics and I wonder if we can do that in a couple weeks now. Look, the history of the Democratic party, your party, not Bernie Sanders, he's not a Democratic party member — your party has produced The New Deal. It produced, the progressive income tax came from the Democrats, from Wilson. Social security, the greatest anti-poverty program ever, came from Roosevelt. And Harry Truman started to fight for health care and civil rights and all these good things that led to the affordable care act. But in every case, you had to battle Republicans who voted against it to the last person. And it's always been a tough fight. You need 60 votes in the senate, you need, what is it, 218 in the house, and if you don't have it, nothing gets done. The Bernie people need to be taught, not him, he won't be taught — the kids behind him need to be told, this is how it works in our system. You can call for revolution, but it ain't going to happen. There isn't going to be a revolution. There's going to be an election, an inauguration, and then there's going to be a congress sitting with you you've got to do business with, no matter who gets elected. You don't have to worry about logic anymore, just, I'm going to have a revolution and pay for everything.

CLINTON: Well, where I come out on this is, I don't think our country or the American people can wait. I don't think they can wait for better jobs with rising incomes, getting prescription drug costs down. I think people want to vote for somebody who is going to get in there on the first day, knows how to do the job, is prepared to do the job, and gets to work. And I will give everything I've got to make sure that we preserve the progress we've made, because you're right, it is hard fought. Our system is set up to make it difficult. Checks and balances, separation of powers — our founders knew that if we were going to survive as a great democracy that they were creating, we had to have a system that kept the passions at bay. We had to have people who were willing to roll up their sleeves and compromise. We couldn't have idealogues who were just hurling their rhetoric back and forth. We had to actually produce results. That hasn't changed since George Washington. We've got to produce results now because a democracy is a fragile organism, Chris. People have to believe they have a stake in it, that their voices count, that their votes count. But then they've got to see results from their investment in our democracy. Our democracy has to work better, our economy has to work better, our politics has to work better. That's what I know how to do and that's what we have to get done in this election.

MATTHEWS: Madame secretary, unofficially, not on behalf of MSNBC or NBC, congratulations on last night and your much deserved relief and break a leg on Thursday night even if you're the only one in the chair. Thank you for joining us today.

CLINTON: I'm going to be there.

MATTHEWS: You said it, I believe you. Thank you.

CLINTON: I'll be there. Bye-bye.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Hillary Clinton, Interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/312395

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