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Hillary Clinton on the issues: Six questions on the campaign trail

Last modified: 6/16/2015 7:36:14 PM
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned to New Hampshire this week, several days after what her campaign is dubbing its official “launch.” During a stop at Carter Hill Orchard in Concord, where she spoke about her goals as president and rallied several hundred supporters, Clinton sat down for interview with the Monitor — one of the first she’s done during this campaign. A recap of that conversation, which lasted just under 10 minutes, appears below.

How do you plan, if elected, to bridge the gap with Republican politicians — or even with Republican voters who might like the ideas of the other party?

Well the first thing I would do is what I did as Senator and Secretary of State, where I worked across the aisle all the time... I will do whatever it takes to reach out to anybody, anytime, anywhere in pursuit of common ground on issues that I think are important for the country — but I will also stand my ground. So I think the first thing is, I know how important it is to build relationships and be constantly working on congressional outreach and informational meetings and all that goes into having a receptive audience when you say ‘We’re going to have to do some hard work here, I need you on my side.’

Secondly, I’m going to try to be producing an agenda that I hope can draw Republican voters and Republican members of congress. I’m well aware that the party on the other side has gone very far toward the Tea Party side, but I think there are still a lot of Republicans that understand that we’ve got to do things for our country — we have to make progress, and we’ve got to get results. So I will be presenting an agenda. A lot of which, unless they are going to say ‘no’ just because of extreme partisanship, should be attractive to them on behalf of our country. I will in my campaign try to elect more Democrats. More Democrats in the Senate, more Democrats in the House so that we get back to a better balance.

Can you identify any Republican politicians who you think you would work well with or have worked well with?

I have worked well. Now, we’ll go through the political season, and they’ll be cringing when I say I worked well with them. But my co-sponsor on health care for the national guard and reserves was Lindsey Graham. And he may not want to be reminded of it, but we worked really hard to get that done. I have worked until the political winds changed with John McCain on climate change. And I think that maybe we can get back to trying to find common ground there. So those are just two examples.

You have been making an effort to learn more about the substance abuse epidemic in New Hampshire. Do you have any specific ideas about how to combat that issue, here or elsewhere?

I will be rolling it out, but I have to say that it is such an issue here in New Hampshire, I can’t escape it. This morning, at our early childhood event, a grandmother stood up and was saying how she is taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter has an addiction problem. And when I talked about it, heads were nodding and people were looking at each other. So I’ve had an ongoing process to reach out and my policy team has been talking to experts here in New Hampshire because I want to gather the best advice. What may work in one community might not work in another community. We do under the Affordable Care Act, as you know, include mental health coverage but we don’t have enough personnel, resources, programs so that it really means what it should — both in substance abuse and in mental health. So I’m going to be rolling out policies in the campaign to talk about what more I need to be doing.

But three really quick things: You can’t cut health care for vulnerable people like extended Medicaid and deal with these problems, you can’t cut community resources that are public-private partnerships and deal with this problem, you can’t close the remaining few facilities that will take care of low-income vulnerable people and deal with this problem. So some states are doing better on certain categories than others, but we’ve got to have some national attention paid to this, try to remove the stigma, pull it into the spotlight so that families are not suffering alone and we do have more opportunities.

You’ve talked a lot about the fights you’re aiming to wage on behalf of “everyday Americans.” Some voters, even within the Democratic party, seem to think you embody the establishment more than the everyday citizen. How do you plan to overcome that?

I’ve been fighting for progressive causes my entire adult life, and I’ve outlined some of the work I’ve done in the past along those lines in my speech on Saturday. But I think if you look at my record in the Senate, and you look at what I fought for, what I supported, I think it’s fair to say that I was the leader in going after the home foreclosure problem, that I called for regulating derivatives, that I called for ending the carried interest income loophole for hedge fund managers and others. I have a long record. Now, I was Secretary of State for four years and I was out of the political arena, so I haven’t been talking about everything I’ve done and everything that I’m building on to do in the future. But I think that by the time this campaign is really in full swing people will know that I have a tried and true record. I’m not a person who’s come lately to these issues, and I also care very much about getting things done. So I want to come up with solutions that I, number one, think will work — but also that, number two, politically we can keep driving until we actually implement them.

Do you have any thoughts on how the federal government could be more transparent or any steps you would take to make it more open or more accessible to the public?

That’s a good question because in my four fights, the fourth one is reforming government and the campaign finance system since Citizens United blew it up. And I think part of the challenge is to get the United States government into the 21st century using technology so that it can be more open and transparent. It is still very heavily dependent upon paper, it is woefully behind in frankly computerization of records, and it’s hard to — it’s such a big organization, it’s hard to move it. But I think it’s important because when I was Secretary of State, I said I want to put all of the dollars we spend in foreign aid on the web so everybody can see them. And you know it took a couple of years because you have to gather them all up and you have to put them in the right format and you have to design the site — but we got it done. So I will go into the White House with the same commitment: More openness, more transparency, aided and abetted by better technology.

You talk a lot about how much New Hampshire means to you. Is there a particular memory from your time here that has informed your approach as a candidate?

Well, there’s so many. But my first trip to New Hampshire in 1991 occurred around my birthday. So when I landed in Keene, New Hampshire, I started celebrating my birthday across New Hampshire. I mean, people were doing cakes and cupcakes — and I just felt immediately at home. And it’s been that way ever since. And I’ve made such good, close friends here. Of course, when I came here after the caucus in Iowa and was basically counted out and the people of New Hampshire opened their hearts and their homes to me, and voted for me, it was such an incredibly moving, heartwarming experience. I just like coming here, I like the feel for New Hampshire and I have gotten to know a lot of the people here.

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott)


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