January 21st, 2016
07:07 PM ET

Clinton: "I think I'm the candidate of real change in people's real lives"

Wolf Blitzer

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sits down with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, to discuss healthcare, the Iran deal, and the continuation of her email scandal. Please see below for a full rushed transcript.

 

MANDATORY CREDIT // The Situation Room

Additional information: The Situation Room: http://www.cnn.com/shows/situation-room

 

CNN Politics story: Hillary Clinton pins 'establishment' label on Bernie Sanders


 

Text highlights:

 

Clinton responds to Sanders’s charges that she is “establishment”: “I just don't understand what that means. he's been in Congress, he's been an elected to office a lot longer than I have. I was in the Senate for eight wonderful years representing New York. He's been in the Congress for 25, and so I'll let your viewers make their own judgment… I think I'm the candidate of real change in people's real lives that will make a difference, whether it's on healthcare, or college affordability, or the economy where I've laid out specific proposals and how I would pay for them.”

 

Clinton draws distinctions between herself and Sanders on healthcare: “I think we should not plunge our nation into another contentious debate over healthcare. We Democrats have been trying to get universal health coverage since Harry Truman. We now have more than 90% of Americans who are covered. I'm going to get us the rest of the way, and I'm also going to decrease the costs so that people can afford prescription drugs, and out of pocket expenses. He wants to start all over again, I think that's a very clear contrast, and I'm appealing to people who know it's not always easy to make the kind of progress we've made under the Affordable Care Act. I want to build on what President Obama has accomplished, and take it all the way which is what I will do.”

 

Clinton on the Iran deal: “I have a lot of commitment to ensuring that the Iran nuclear agreement is implemented, and that the Iranians are held accountable if they do not. After all, I engaged in long patient diplomacy to put together the sanctions on Iran that finally brought them to the negotiating table, and actually began the preliminary negotiations that the President and Secretary Kerry continued to completion. But, I think it would be a mistake to offer normalized relations. I think that we have to very carefully continue our diplomacy. We have to hold Iran accountable… We can't rush into normalizing relations. The President doesn't believe that, I don't believe that, and I think that Senator Sanders is wrong about that.”

 

Clinton responds to reports her private server contained highly classified intel: “I think it's a continuation of an inter-agency dispute that has been going on, and that's not uncommon in our government when it comes to releasing information as I requested that mine be released. And, it doesn't change the fact that I never sent, or received any material marked classified. I do believe that these leaks which are coming out, and being in some way misrepresenting, and mischaracterizing what is going on are troubling, but the basic fact that no material marked as classified was sent or received... I will repeat, I did not send or receive classified material.”


FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

WOLF BLITZER, CNN’S LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR AND HOST OF THE SITUATION ROOM: Joining us now, Democratic Presidential Candidate, the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Madam Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

 

CLINTON: Oh, it's a pleasure, Wolf.

 

BLITZER: Bernie Sanders says his campaign is taking on the political establishment, saying you're endorsements, for example, from the Human Rights Campaign, from Planned Parenthood, are because you're part of the establishment. Are you?

 

CLINTON: Well, I have to say I didn't understand that at all. Planned Parenthood does so much on the frontlines to provide women and men health care, often low income people. People who don't have any alternative.

 

And, of course, we know that Planned Parenthood has been under attack constantly from the Republicans, both in Congress, and in many states.

 

And, the Human Rights Campaign has been on the forefront of making sure that LGBT Americans are not discriminated against. They help to lead the battle for marriage equality. I really don't understand what he means by that. These are two of the really great human rights progressive organizations in our country. I've worked with both of them a long time. I've worked to get results for the people that they represent and serve, and I'm proud to have endorsements from both of them.

 

BLITZER: But are you the establishment?

 

CLINTON: I just don't understand what that means. he's been in Congress, he's been an elected to office a lot longer than I have. I was in the Senate for eight wonderful years representing New York. He's been in the Congress for 25, and so I'll let your viewers make their own judgment.

 

BLITZER: Some have compared Bernie Sanders coalition he's putting together in Iowa right now to then Senator Barack Obama's coalition in 2008. You lost then Senator Barack Obama. He was the so-called "Candidate of Change". Is Sanders the candidate of change in 2016?

 

CLINTON: No, I think I'm the candidate of real change in people's real lives that will make a difference, whether it's on healthcare, or college affordability, or the economy where I've laid out specific proposals and how I would pay for them.

 

I feel really good about our campaign in Iowa. We built a grassroots organization. We have 10's of thousands committed people who are not only committed to caucusing for me, but are out knocking on doors in sub-zero weather, and making phone calls, and doing everything that an enthusiastic, energized campaign needs to do.

 

So, we're going to do all we can between now and February 1st to earn as much support as possible.

 

BLITZER: In the past 36 hours or so you said Bernie Sanders ideas wouldn't make it in the, quote, "real world" and that the Senator sounds like he hasn't really thought it through. At the same time he's releasing ads filled with very hopeful images, Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, for example.

 

Do you now think to win in Iowa you have to go more negative?

 

CLINTON: That's just not what is happening, Wolf. We're in the final phase of this campaign, and certainly Senator Sanders has drawn contrast with me, as he should, and I am drawing contrast with him. I have the greatest respect for him, and for his conviction about the kind of country that we can be.

 

We just have a disagreement, for example, on healthcare. I think we should not plunge our nation into another contentious debate over healthcare. We Democrats have been trying to get universal health coverage since Harry Truman. We now have more than 90% of Americans who are covered. I'm going to get us the rest of the way, and I'm also going to decrease the costs so that people can afford prescription drugs, and out of pocket expenses.

 

He wants to start all over again, I think that's a very clear contrast, and I'm appealing to people who know it's not always easy to make the kind of progress we've made under the Affordable Care Act. I want to build on what President Obama has accomplished, and take it all the way which is what I will do.

 

BLITZER: As you know, the U.S. and the Iranians, they reached implementation day on the Iran nuclear deal, which you have supported. Bernie Sanders says he wants to normalize relations with Iran. Is that the right approach right now?

 

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, look - I have a lot of commitment to ensuring that the Iran nuclear agreement is implemented, and that the Iranians are held accountable if they do not.

 

After all, I engaged in long patient diplomacy to put together the sanctions on Iran that finally brought them to the negotiating table, and actually began the preliminary negotiations that the President and Secretary Kerry continued to completion.

 

But, I think it would be a mistake to offer normalized relations. I think that we have to very carefully continue our diplomacy. We have to hold Iran accountable. We have to work to make sure that the other area of concern coming from Iran, they're destabilizing nations, strong support for Assad as he continues murdering his people, the support of proxies in terrorism, all of which are unfortunately conducted by the Iranian government.

 

We can't rush into normalizing relations. The President doesn't believe that, I don't believe that, and I think that Senator Sanders is wrong about that.

 

BLITZER: So, given what you've said, do you think he's qualified to be Commander in Chief?

 

CLINTON: Well, I'm going to leave it up to voters. I think, obviously, I would be the better choice. I think I'm prepared to be both President, and Commander in Chief, and I think we are living in a very complicated world where you have to have both the experience and the judgment.

 

I've spent a lot of hours in the Situation Room, not yours, but the one in the White House troubling ourselves over difficult choices like whether or not to go after Bin Laden, how to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and so many more.

 

So, I feel very well prepared to walk into the White House January 20th 2017 and be ready to deal with whatever waits because we know some of what we have to do, especially here at home, to raise incomes, and deal with the challenges our families are facing. But, you can't predict everything that your president will face as Commander in Chief.

 

BLITZER: I know your time is short. Let me ask you about the intelligence community's Inspector General who states that the emails on your private server contained what he describes as classified intelligence. One of your campaign spokesman says the Inspector General is not, quote, "Acting in good faith". Do you think they are not acting in good faith, the I.G. of the intelligence community?

 

CLINTON: Well, all I can say is this, Wolf. I think it's a continuation of an inter-agency dispute that has been going on, and that's not uncommon in our government when it comes to releasing information as I requested that mine be released. And, it doesn't change the fact that I never sent, or received any material marked classified. I do believe that these leaks which are coming out, and being in some way misrepresenting, and mischaracterizing what is going on are troubling, but the basic fact that no material marked as classified was sent or received...

 

BLITZER: ...  Alright...

 

CLINTON: ...  By me - has not been changed...

 

BLITZER: ...  Are they falsifying information?

 

CLINTON: I hope not, you know? I really hope not. I don't have any information to that effect. I want this to be resolved, and as the State Department has said repeatedly, I will repeat, I did not send or receive classified material, and this latest example, the best I can determine, may turn on whether or not someone forwarded a New York Times article in the public domain.

 

So, there are a lot of unanswered questions that I would like to see resolved.

 

BLITZER: One final question. Do you believe the American people are ready to elect a socialist as President of the United States?

 

CLINTON: Well, let me say this. Again, it's up to the voters. I know a number of Democrats, people who I highly respect, are concerned and are expressing that concern to me, to journalists and others. I'm going to just repeat what I believe, which is I am the best choice to be the next president, and Commander in Chief.

 

That's why I'm working as hard as I can to make my case on behalf of my experience, my judgment, my plans, my vision to the people in Iowa, New Hampshire, and the states beyond. Because I think this is a very consequential election which has enormous implications for our country, and certainly whatever differences there are between Senator Sanders and myself, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and the Republicans running for president.

 

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.

 

CLINTON: My pleasure. Good to talk to you, Wolf. Thank you.

 

 

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