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A NewsChannel 15 Exclusive Interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

February 23, 2007

We Pick Presidents


hpc-larger.jpg Hillary Clinton, U-S Senator from New York, is a frontrunner in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. NewsChannel 15’s Jim Heath was the only local television journalist invited to speak to Clinton in Florence this week in what was her historic first visit here as a presidential candidate. The interview can be seen in a two part Special Report “A Conversation with Hillary Clinton” airing tonight and Thursday on NewsChannel 15 at 11.

Jim Heath: Senator, very nice to see you.

Hillary Clinton: It’s nice to be here.

Heath: You are a Democratic candidate for president. But many South Carolinians may be interested in learning you started your political career as a “Goldwater Girl.” Tell us about that.

Clinton: I did. Well, back in the presidential campaign of 1964, I was a great admirer of Barry Goldwater. I thought his emphasis on individual responsibility was exactly in line with the way I was raised. And I supported him strongly in that election and I was a ‘Goldwater Girl’. I actually got to meet him at one of the big rallies that he came in to the Chicago area to do. My political beliefs and opinions kind of evolved to see we needed more of a balance, to try to make sure we didn’t leave people who were hurt or sick or otherwise out of the mainstream of American life behind. But I’m still a very great admirer of him.

Heath: We recently asked national pollster John Zogby about his poll that compared you to former presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. What do you think of that comparison?

Clinton: Well, that’s flattering, but this is the beginning of a very long journey. Obviously we have a long campaign ahead of us. I’m going to work hard to earn the vote of as many people in South Carolina and across the country that I can. But, for me, it’s not about the campaigning, it’s about the governing. The country faces some very difficult challenges. I’m running because I think I’m well qualified to hit the ground and start dealing with those in January, 2009. But I’m also running to try to enlist more citizens on behalf of our country. So I’m very excited about the campaign so far, but I know it’s just the beginning of a very long process.

Heath: One of your opponents, John Edwards, has stated he believes you have a moral obligation to apologize for your vote to take us into war in Iraq. You’ve been reluctant to do so. Why?

Clinton: Well, I’ve taken responsibility for my vote, and I’ve called on the president and his team to take responsibility because clearly they went headlong into this war without adequate planning or even understanding about what they were getting our country into. But I think the real issue now is where do we go from here? I think the Democrats need to work together in the Congress, and we need to chart a new course. We need to enlist like minded Republicans and Americans to say, ‘this is not working to the benefit or the interests of our country.’ And we need the Iraqis to take more responsibility.

Heath: As a Senator from New York, does it still bother you that five plus years after the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden has not been brought to justice?

Clinton: Well, it bothers me greatly. I’ve been to Afganistan three times just like I’ve been to Iraq three times, and on each of my trips to Afganistan, I have sought out the best advice I can from people on the frontlines in that country, Pakistan, and our military. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Bin Laden is basically at large and we had reports today that clearly he is funding some of the training camps that are sending the Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters across the border to do battle with our NATO forces, and with the new Afgan army. So, this is a very serious matter. I would have never diverted attention from Afganistan and the hunt for Bin Laden until we had gotten the job done, and I’d like to see it done now.

Heath: Everyone is asking what former President Bill Clinton will do in a Hillary Clinton administration. Have you given that some thought?

Clinton: Well, one of the things I admire about our presidential system is that presidents use former presidents. I’ve been very pleased that our current president has called upon my husband, along with his father, to help on a number of important issues around the world. I will certainly call upon the former presidents, and I think the work Bill has done in the last years, with his foundation and his outreach to other countries, gives us a leg up in terms of rebuilding the alliances that we need in order to be successful in leading the world.

Heath: Many say if Hillary Clinton can win here in South Carolina, the nomination is yours. If you can hold off John Edwards who was born here and won the state in ’04, and Barack Obama who is attracting large crowds. How much importance do you put in South Carolina?

Clinton: Well, I have a great personal fondness for South Carolina. My husband and I have vacationed and visited here over many years. I have a lot of friends, I’m hoping to make a lot of new friends. I see South Carolina as an important state because of the issues it presents, and I would hope to do very well here. I’m not going to make any predictions because we have a strong field of people who are competing here and elsewhere. But I’ve been heartened by my trip here today both in Columbia and here in Florence.

Heath: Why do you want to be the next President of the United States?

Clinton: I believe that my experience and qualifications uniquely equip me to take office in January, 2009. To do what is necessary to face the challenges we have here at home in health care, energy, the environment, education and so many others. And to restore America’s greatness and leadership in the world.

Heath: Senator, I suspect we’ll see much more of you here in the year ahead. Thank you.

Clinton: Thank you very much.

Our exclusive special report “A Conversation with Hillary Clinton” airs tonight and tomorrow on NewsChannel 15 at 11. Clinton is the former First Lady of the United States. She has not officially announced her bid to seek the Democratic nomination in 2008. See the story at www.wpde.com/politics

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