Hillary Clinton photo

Interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC

February 08, 2016

MADDOW: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for this time.

CLINTON: My pleasure to see you again.

MADDOW: So, we're very close to voting in New Hampshire.

CLINTON: We are.

MADDOW: The polls show Senator Sanders still significantly ahead. If you do not win in New Hampshire, does that imply that there's going to be — or in your mind, does that mean you need to change course at all? Will that mean your campaign going ahead will be different than leading into this?

CLINTON: You know, Rachel, I've always had a different view on this than I think maybe some others have. I always knew Iowa was going to be really, really hard. And we won, narrow, but a win is a win.

MADDOW: One quarter of one percent.

CLINTON: Yes, I'm always happy about that. I always knew that Senator Sanders been in public life next door for 25 years, he's on the Congress for that long, he had a tremendous amount of familiarity and a sense of really belonging in the area. So, I always knew this was going to be hard. I feel good about the campaign we waged here. I think we have an uphill battle. We're going to battle it until the last votes are counted and we're going to turn around and head off for the next contest.

MADDOW: Politico.com just this afternoon just published something that says that there's changes in the works. There's always these sort of campaign gossip stories. But they are say — they say they're citing a half dozen people with direct knowledge of the situation. Their lead is, "Hillary and Bill Clinton are so dissatisfied with their campaign's messaging and digital operations, they're considering staffing and strategy changes after what's expected to be a loss in Tuesday's primary." Are you planning some sort of shake up like that?

CLINTON: Yes, somebody showed that to me. I have no idea what they are talking about or who they are talking to. We're going to take stock. But it's going to be the campaign I've got. I'm confident in the people I have. I'm very committed to them. They're committed to doing the best we can. We're going to take stock. What works, what doesn't work? We're moving into a different phase of the campaign. We're moving into different geographic areas. So, of course, it would be malpractice not to say, OK, what worked? What can we do better? What can we do new and different that we have to pull out?

MADDOW: President Clinton was here with you today as was your daughter. President Clinton did his own event yesterday which made some headlines, when he had some very harsh criticism for Senator Sanders campaign, essentially calling Senator Sanders and his campaign hypocritical, dishonest, calling out sexism from Senator Sanders supporters. Although Senator Sanders have called out his on supporters for sexism and said he will not tolerate it. Is President Clinton going further than you would in those criticisms for the Sanders campaign or do you also share the view that he's been dishonest and hypocritical?

CLINTON: Well, here's my view, and I think Bill was really defending my supporters because we know a lot of them are being harassed online, they're being harassed at our events. They are being really treated badly. Look, I'm all for people who are for my opponent. I think it's great to bring in as many new, young people as possible. I want people treated respectfully. I think that's part of what he was talking about. I have been concerned about tone of his campaign over the last weeks. We were running I thought a good campaign on issues. We're getting to the point we have to draw contrasts. That's natural. You know, I have a health care approach. He has a health care approach. We may have the same goal, but we have a different view about how we get there. That is fair game, as it should be. But there has been a constant undercurrent that I said in the debate last week, was a kind of attack by innuendo, insinuation, kind of artful smears. And I just said enough is enough. You know, if you have something to say to my face, say it. If you can point to any event, any vote, any view that you think has been influenced by any donation I've ever made, call it out, you know? Then, they put up the bankruptcy bill. I answered that yesterday on the morning shows. And so, I want this innuendo to stop. You know, let's just be honest with each other. Look, Senator Sanders has taken money from Wall Street. He took it through the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. That's what we do. That doesn't mean his views are compromised. It doesn't mean my views and it doesn't mean that President Obama's views when he was running for the presidency — he took a lot of money from Wall Street — in any way stopped him from pushing through and signing Dodd Frank and imposing tough rules. So, it's a — you know, he gets his supporters — he sends some messages and his campaign then amplifies those messages. And then a lot of his young people get really worked up and they're going off on tangents. They can attack me, that's fine. I'm in the arena. But to go after journalists who say something nice about me, to go after supporters who post things, to go after elected officials who are for me, because, you know, I have the vast majority of elected officials on the Democratic side because they know us both. And they know I would be the president who can actually get done what I'm saying.

MADDOW: As a journalist, and who is an out and proud liberal, I get attacked 50/50 by people who say I'm a dyed in the wool partisan for Bernie and then the other 50 said, it said I'm dyed in the wool partisan for you. And people really have decided one way or the other, about 50/50, that I'm completely in the tank. I do not notice a difference in the tone or the nastiness or the snark or the inappropriateness of those attacks that I get from the people who support you or Senator Sanders. If you did want to change the tone of things from your supporters, could you? I mean, he said he doesn't want sexism and other forms of offensive comments from his supporters, can he do more than he is? Could you do more than you do?

CLINTON: I think we should do what we can. But I'm also focused on what he says. You know, his argument basically is this. Anyone who has taken a donation from anyone connected with Wall Street is compromised. They're vote has been bought. They can't be trusted. That is just not true. If it is true, now it includes him we know because he's taken contributions from Wall Street.

MADDOW: He said yesterday that no politician, there's never been a politician in history who says, yes, the money that I took influences me. So, therefore, essentially implying like the defense that there isn't, that you don't claim to be been influenced is by the donations is no defense.

CLINTON: But let's put out the proof, Rachel. Don't listen to what people say. I find it deeply offensive. You know, I have worked really hard. I've taken on many more powerful groups than he has. I've taken on the drug companies, the insurance companies. I've got big oil going after me. I've got hedge fund guys spending $6 millions of dollars in ads against me, which I would think would raise an interesting question if they are so worried about Bernie, why are they trying to defeat me? I've taken onto gun lobby, something that, you know, he never has done. So, I've got the scars to prove my bona fides and what I'm willing to take on and how I've stood firm against an onslaught of attacks, you know, turning me into the political pinata sometimes. So, point to the evidence. Otherwise, stop it. Let's talk about I want to get to universal coverage building on the Affordable Care Act. You want to start over with single payer. Let the people decide what's the best way to do this. So, that's what this should be about.

MADDOW: On the — staying for a moment on that, that line of attack. You had mentioned in the debate when Chuck asked you about transcripts of speeches that you gave paid speeches, that you would look into it. We've had some further word from your campaign that there may be a release of those transcripts. What's the status of that? Do you expect to release those speeches?

CLINTON: Well, you know what I said the other day — you know, look, I'm getting a little bit weary of the double standard. There's a lot of people on both sides. If we're going to start saying what you did when you're out of public office, when you're in the private sector, what you did, fair game. Release it all. I'm all for that.

MADDOW: You mean all presidential candidates?

CLINTON: Yes, everybody, release everything. But again, I've been asking to do something for which there's no basis, just the attempt to cast suspicion. So, I said I will look into it. We will look into it. But, you know, what's good for the gander should be good for the goose. [laughter]

MADDOW: So, you wouldn't do it unilaterally, but if everybody's going to do it, you would do it?

CLINTON: Well, this is — I'm really not thinking about it until I get through New Hampshire, to be honest. I want to get through tomorrow, and then, you know, it's going to be very boring for people once it is done under whatever circumstances.

MADDOW: Did you see the Republican debate on Saturday night?

CLINTON: I was at my own event in Portsmouth. So, I — I did not see.

MADDOW: Have you been able to resist the temptation to watch the clips of Marco Rubio saying the same thing over and over and over again?

CLINTON: I did get to see that because I was on every news channel that I was flipping around.

MADDOW: Do you have — I mean, he's seen as at least coming out of Iowa as having a lot of momentum as a potential nominee for the Republican Party. Do you have any reaction or opinion about that performance from him?

CLINTON: I'm going to leave my opinions to myself because I don't want to in any way influence their process, because they have to make their decision and clearly, the longer it lasts and the more difficult it is, the better it will be for us.

MADDOW: I went to some Republican candidate events since I've been up here and —

CLINTON: They let you in?

MADDOW: They let me in. I wear a baseball hat. Incognito situation. But I specifically wanted to talk to women voters who were there at Republican candidate events. And I found a number of different women to talk to. Some are dyed this wool Republicans, but more often I found are women open to the idea of voting for a Democrat. I talked to a few women who voted for Barack Obama either last time or in 2008. But they are shopping for a Republican candidate this year. And 2-1, the reason they said they are shopping for a Republican candidate and not thinking about voting here in the Democratic side is because they do not believe that you are honest. They have issue with your trustworthiness. I know you see this come up in the polls and people talk about their feelings about the various candidates. I'm sure you disagree with that assessment from them. I understand that. But how do you make the case to people, to women in particular for whom that's the objection. That's why they can't pull the lever for you.

CLINTON: You know, obviously, this is not anything I want to hear because I find it so absolutely contrary to who I am and who all these people who support me, who know me, work with me and count on me know who I am. But I thought a lot about it, Rachel, because when you think back, I emerged on the national scene in 1992. I have been under relentless attack ever since. Now, just read behavioral science, read psychology, even when the attacks proved to be unfounded, untrue, it leaves a residue, right? People say, well, why is she being attacked so much? It must be something there. So, I get through the '90s. I run for the Senate. Same thing happen. I worked, I gained the trust of the people of New York. When I run again, I get a larger percentage of the vote. So, people who see me in action, people who count on me, people who know that if I tell you something intend to do, I will do everything in my power to make that happen. Then President-elect Obama turns around after that hard fought campaign with all sorts of accusations flying around, say I trust you, I want you to be my secretary of state. When I'm holding office, I get along well with Republicans. I will always have the, you know, right wingers who are never going to give up on trying to push me down and push me out. They view me as a threat. And I accept that. But when I get to work with people, we get things done. And that's been my pattern. So, when I get that question and I ask people, I say what is it you are really reacting to? Very often they don't know. Then a lot of them will say, well, Benghazi. I said, OK, Benghazi. You know, did you know there were nine separate investigations, eight of them independent, one of them clearly partisan admittedly to try to bring me down politically. And they all reach the same conclusions. There were things we could have and should have done better. I immediately said we would. I testified for 11 hours. I answered every question, but it's still on the TV. I hear people talking about it. I can't stop them from talking about it. I can only tell you what the facts are. I can tell you that in the last, what, 36, 37 years, we've had terrorist problems in Iran, in Lebanon, in Kenya, in Tanzania, in New York and, yes, in Benghazi — none of them were every politicized. We lost 258 marines and embassy personnel in Beirut. The Democrats didn't stand up and go after the secretary of state. We lost people in Kenya and Tanzania, 12 Americans, hundreds of Africans. Madeleine Albright was secretary of state, she forthrightly asked for a report. She made it public. People didn't turn it into a partisan attack. So, I have to only conclude that there is a concerted effort to try to make partisan advantage by really throwing some much at me that even if little splotches of it stick, it will cloud people's judgment of me. So, that's a burden I carry. But when you stop and think, you know, the people who have supported me are not doing it because they just like me. I have the governor of Vermont supporting me. I have Pat Leahy, the senator from Vermont supporting me, the two former governors, Madeleine Kunin and Howard Dean supporting me. They clearly know us both. They clearly prefer to support me. I have the senator here, the governor in New Hampshire. They know me. They trust me. They're not the kind of people who would just sign onto campaign for some frivolous reason. I have all my friends from the Senate, Cory Booker and Tim Kaine and Kirsten Gillibrand and Debbie Stabenow and Amy Klobuchar, they were all up here in the snow because they believe in me, and they trust me. So, I can't stop the barrage of attacks. I want your viewers and anyone else who would be interested in this to ask themselves, why does the right and particularly the Republicans, spend so much time, money and effort through the media, through their advertising because you look at the Republicans are running more ads against me than they run against each other, accusing me of being this and that, all kinds of accusations. Why? I'll tell you why, because they are afraid of me. They know that I will be a president who, yes, I will listen to people, I will seek common ground, but I will stand my ground and I know how to get things done. And that's the last thing these guys want to see again.

MADDOW: What did you learn by going there that you didn't need before?

CLINTON: Nothing substitutes for sitting like I did and you were there when you were there with mothers who told me about what had happened to their families. A mother who moved to Flint just serendipitously right up at the time the crisis was beginning, a year ago April, pregnant with twins, started seeing rashes, lost her twins. Just sitting there like I'm sitting with you just hearing that story, you know there is a depth of emotion and horror frankly associated with not being able to trust the water you drink and that you bathe your baby in. And listening to a lot of officials explained in detail how little control they had because their city was under emergency management under the governor, getting into the real detail about what they could and couldn't do and how they literally couldn't get phone calls returned, letters answered, talking to some of the water warriors who have been on this issue and doing everything they could to bring it to public attention, talking to the doctors who are leading up the efforts to test kid and what more they need. It really filled out in great excruciating detail how terribly damaged and abused this community has been and it reminded me that people have a right to be angry. I have no argument with the anger, the insecurity, the fear, the worry that people have when your government fails you, when the economy fails you, when politics fails you, anger is a natural and frankly expected result. But as we were talking yesterday and as this incredible mayor who has just taken this city on her back and is trying to lift it up said, OK, we are so distraught, our hearts are broken. Our stomachs are sick with worry about what happens next, but we need a plan. So I came to try to get them more support, working with all levels of government to try to make sure they had whatever they needed to do as much as possible to empower themselves, and I got a long list of, you know, follow up I will be doing over the next weeks.

MADDOW: You said yesterday you were making a personal commitment you would see it through —


MADDOW: — to the end. I will say just my opinion being there, my felling when I was there was that I couldn't believe, the basic things that families needed to cope on a day-to-day basis were not attended to. What I aim at specifically there is no day-to-day delivery of clean water in Flint. So, there's a lot love people, average, poor American city, people don't have transportation or people could be house bound, elderly people, right now, still, to this day, today the day before the New Hampshire primary, the plan is for people to go out to the fire stations and collect their allotted one case of bottled water per day — is there a sense in which the emergency, not just fixing it for the long haul, but the emergency of what people need day-to-day still isn't being attended to and there ought to be some quicker response right now?

CLINTON: Yes. Yes. Look, as I said yesterday, we've got a very big infrastructure problem that has to be fixed. Congress is working on that, my friend Debbie Stabenow is really leading the charge. We have a huge set of problems having to do with the needs that people have that are not being met. You mentioned one of them, clean water. We still don't have all the testing set up to be done.

MADDOW: Right.

CLINTON: We don't have the planning yet for what has to happen in the schools. We don't know whether we can get not just clean water, but the kind of nutrition that can maybe begin to mitigate to some extent the affects of blood before it gets from the bloodstream into tissues, muscles, et cetera. So, we have a long list and I brought some folks with me who are going to stay involved and help with that planning process and we have a big lack of trust, and one of the things that I have advocated is we need to find a way, not just to empower, but to hire people in the community, to be the outreach workers, to do the water delivery, to be on the front lines in their neighborhoods. So, we're putting together under the mayor's leadership a kind of matrix of tasks and who can do them, what they need to be able to do them. A lot of them don't need training. Some of them might. And so, how do we piece all this together and talking with the city council, county commissioners and others, there's roles for everybody to play, but somebody has to have the overall approach that is followed.

MADDOW: And quick.

CLINTON: Yes, and very quick.

Hillary Clinton, Interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/312374

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