Clyburn on his endorsement of Hillary Clinton: "She has all that I think is required to make a very good president"
February 19th, 2016
05:57 PM ET

Clyburn on his endorsement of Hillary Clinton: "She has all that I think is required to make a very good president"

Today on The Lead with Jake Tapper, Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), joined the program, to discuss his recent endorsement of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.  Please see below for a full rushed transcript.

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CNN Politics Story: South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn endorses Clinton

Text Highlights

Clyburn on why he chose to endorse in this election cycle: “And when South Carolina was granted a position in the pre-primary window, I promised them that I would not do anything that would jeopardize the credibility of the primary.  And one of the things they asked me to do is to be very careful about getting involved in one campaign or the other. So I swore off getting involved in anybody's campaign to keep from jeopardizing that primary.  This year I held off as long as I have held off simply because I did not want to get out too far in front of the primary day. But I decided after talking to family and friends last week that I held off long enough, and I talked to Jamie Harrison, the chair of the party, and he assured me that he did not think it would be harmful for me to do it today and so that's why we did it today.”

Clyburn on why he endorsed Clinton: “Well, I'll be glad to tell them exactly why I selected senator - Secretary Hillary Clinton over Senator Barry (sic) Sanders… And when you add up everything, taking a look at the resumes, a look at the set of experiences, it was just clear to me that where we are in the country today, that Hillary Clinton as a former first lady of the country for eight years, secretary of state for four years, first lady of a state coming out of law school, coming to the South, working among those of us who were trying to find various - mount challenges to the system.  She has all that I think is required to make a very good president… So both candidates bring strengths - would bring strengths to the ticket.  I just think that our chances to be successful are greater with Hillary Clinton, by far.”

Clyburn on Clinton’s relationship with younger voters: “Now, I will tell that to young people, because most of them may not be familiar with that history.  They know what their parents went through, but they may not know that Hillary Clinton was standing side by side with their parents.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

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

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to "THE LEAD."  We're back with Congressman James Clyburn, who joins me just hours after announcing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

 

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.  So you remained neutral in 2008 when it was between Clinton and Obama.  What changed this time?  Why pick a side?

 

CONGRESSMAN JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC):  Well, I always believed that South Carolina, our party in this state, would be in much better shape so long as we could maintain our first-in-the-South primary.  And when South Carolina was granted a position in the pre-primary window, I promised them that I would not do anything that would jeopardize the credibility of the primary.  And one of the things they asked me to do is to be very careful about getting involved in one campaign or the other.

 

So I swore off getting involved in anybody's campaign to keep from jeopardizing that primary.  This year I held off as long as I have held off simply because I did not want to get out too far in front of the primary day.

 

But I decided after talking to family and friends last week that I held off long enough, and I talked to Jamie Harrison, the chair of the party, and he assured me that he did not think it would be harmful for me to do it today and so that's why we did it today.

 

TAPPER:  And obviously Bernie Sanders is very popular with a lot of younger voters.  How do you think Hillary Clinton is going to do in South Carolina and what do you say when and if younger people come over to you and say, "Why not Bernie?"

 

CLYBURN:  Well, I'll be glad to tell them exactly why I selected senator - Secretary Hillary Clinton over Senator Barry (sic) Sanders.  I know both of them very well.  I have worked with them.  This is my 24th year in the Congress.  I have worked with both of them throughout all of that time.

 

And when you add up everything, taking a look at the resumes, a look at the set of experiences, it was just clear to me that where we are in the country today, that Hillary Clinton as a former first lady of the country for eight years, secretary of state for four years, first lady of a state coming out of law school, coming to the South, working among those of us who were trying to find various - mount challenges to the system.  She has all that I think is required to make a very good president.

 

Now, I will tell that to young people, because most of them may not be familiar with that history.  They know what their parents went through, but they may not know that Hillary Clinton was standing side by side with their parents.

 

TAPPER:  And in an interview with BET, Senator Sanders said that Clinton is trying to embrace President Obama, quote, "as closely as she can she can," so she can win support from the African-American community.  What do you think of that charge?

 

CLYBURN:  Well, I don't think that I ought to get in the back and forth between them.  I think that their campaigns are good campaigns.  They are free to do whatever they think is necessary to win favor.

 

But I believe, as I said, that Hillary Clinton's resume speaks for itself.  Her involvement - I mean, I suspect that when she first came south to help those juveniles who were being jailed with adults, I doubt very seriously whether Barack Obama was being thought about at that time.  So what motivated her then?  What motivated her to line up with Marian Wright Edelman, also from South Carolina, to run the Children's Defense Fund.  What motivated her as first lady to strike out and try to get universal access to health care, and settling for the State Children's Health Insurance Plan.

 

Those are the kind of programs and priorities that are important to the African-American community, and when they know about it, it wouldn't amount to much how tightly she might hug Barack Obama.

 

TAPPER:  Obviously you think Hillary Clinton is more electable in November theoretically than Bernie Sanders would be.

 

Do you have concerns, however, about how electable Bernie Sanders might be if he does get the nomination?  Would that make it easier for the Republicans to take the White House?

 

CLYBURN:  Well, you know, there's a theory that that's true.  Both of them have assets.  Bernie, quite frankly, has ignited a flame.  He has the emotions with him across the board and that's a good thing.  I think that, as I said Hillary has the experiences and the resume.  Those are good things.  So both candidates bring strengths - would bring strengths to the ticket.  I just think that our chances to be successful are greater with Hillary Clinton, by far.

 

TAPPER:  All right, Congressman Jim Clyburn, thank you so much.  Appreciate your time.

 

CLYBURN:  Thank you.

 

 

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