Hillary Clinton appeared on the Rachel Maddow show last night, her first national interview since completing her Benghazi testimony.
The lovely folks at MSNBC have provided a transcript, so this entry was put together fairly quickly.
I've made some small adjustments for clarity and grammar.
Look for another entry this weekend that focuses on her speech at the Women's Democratic Forum yesterday. Here is Hillary on...
The 2016 Election:
My take on this, now, is we’re gonna have an election that is truly going to be, at bottom, about fundamental rights. A woman’s right to choose, defending Planned Parenthood, marriage equality, taking on the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community. You can get married on Saturday, you can get fired on Monday. Voting rights – the most profound citizenship rights that we have being blocked and undermined at every turn.
We are going to have a very vigorous debate in this election, because the Republicans are all on record as trying to reverse and rip away the progress that has occurred. A lot of it, because of decisions that the court has finally made – both for good and for bad.
I mean, the marriage equality decision for good, the terrible gutting of the Voting Rights Act for bad. And the local activity in states against a woman’s right to choose and defunding Planned Parenthood.How Republicans Defund Government to Discredit Government:
They try to create a downward spiral. Don’t fund it to the extent that it needs to be funded, because we want it to fail so then we can argue for privatization. They still want to privatize Medicare.
They still want to do away with Social Security. And these are fights we’ve been having for 70, 80 years, now. S
o we cannot grow weary in the face of these ideological assaults on basic fundamental services, whether it’s the V.A., Medicare, Social Security.
But we have to be more creative about trying to fix the problems that are the legitimate concern, so that we can try to stymie the Republican assault.
The Importance of State and Local Elections:
MADDOW: Down-ticket races have been going really south for the Democratic Party for these last few cycles in a way that has huge policy consequences. Are you able to leave the Democratic Party in a way that will get people other than yourself elected?
CLINTON: Well, that’s my goal. And I have said that repeatedly across the country to the Democratic National Committee, to local elected officials. I think it’s part of what I not only want to do, but I must do. You see the problems that come when Democrats don’t show up, when we don’t have a pipeline of candidates starting, you know, in counties, commissions and school boards all the way up to State Legislators and Governors. And it has really hurt us because we don’t pay attention to midterm elections.
You know, Democrats are very much personality driven in a lot of our politics. That’s – there’s that great old line that Democrats like to fall in love and Republicans just fall in line. Well, there’s a lot of truth to that, and we have, then, just decimated. And you look at what more can happen that will hurt us – we’re going to have another census not so long from now. We need a real focus on recruiting, and raising money for and having some untied methods that people will actually listen to to help build parties from the local level up again.VA Hospitals and Disability Backlog:
I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans, and overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment. Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see, and the constant berating of the V.A. that comes from the Republicans, in – in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.
Now, I do think that some of the reforms that were adopted last year should be given a chance to work. If there is a waiting period that is just unacceptable, you should be able to, in a sense, get the opportunity to go out, have a private physician take care of you, but at the cost of the V.A.
But I think it goes deeper than that, because if you look at not only V.A. health care, but the backlog on disability determinations, there’s something not working within the bureaucracy.
And I have said I would like to literally appoint a SWAT team to bring in people and just tackle the disability, have an ongoing review of the care that is being given, do more to make sure that every V.A. hospital is delivering care to the highest standard of the community, because, unfortunately, some are doing a lot better job than others are.
And I think that the current new leadership that President Obama did put in seems to be trying to tackle a lot of it. I just don’t know if they have enough help.On DOMA, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and the Nineties Crime Bill:
On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed – and there was certainly evidence to support it – is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that.
And there wasn’t any rational argument – because I was in on some of those discussions, on both “don’t ask, don’t tell” and on – on DOMA, where both the president, his advisers and occasionally I would – you know, chime in and talk about, “you can’t be serious. You can’t be serious.” But they were. And so, in – in a lot of ways, DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further. It was a defensive action.
The culture rapidly changed so that now what was totally anathema to political forces – they have ceded. They no longer are fighting, except on a local level and a rear-guard action. And with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, it’s settled.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that – you know, Bill promised during the ‘92 campaign to let gays serve openly in the military. And it’s what he intended to do. And then – yeah. Oh my gosh (ph), it was the most astonishing overreaction, but – by the military, by the Congress. I – I remember being – you know, on the edge of one of those conversations, and – and so “don’t ask, don’t tell,” again, became a defensive line.
So I’m not in any way excusing them. I’m explaining them.
And the same with the crime bill, which was a result of a lot of reaction – particularly from poor communities, communities of color – to the horrific crime rates of the 1980s. And there was just a – a consensus across every community that something had to be done. That went too far. First speech I gave in this campaign was about mass incarceration, and about reform of policing practices.
And I think that sometimes, as a leader in a democracy, you are confronted with two bad choices. And it is not an easy position to be in, and you have to try to think, OK, what is the least bad choice and how do I try to cabin this off from having worse consequences?On Republican extremism blocking Obama's agenda and paralyzing Government:
Well, I think, when you are dealing with the other part in Washington, it’s that old saying – you know, you hope for the best, you prepare for the worst. Of course you want to have the opportunity to work across party lines. I did that when I was a senator. I did it when I was secretary of state.
But you need about – you know, six, seven, eight, 10 scenarios if something doesn’t go your way. I think what the president was doing when he came into office, number one, was coping with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the very people who had supported President Bush in voting for TARP – the Republicans and the Democrats – were then asked to support the president on the Recovery Act and the stimulus.
And it was Democrats, predominantly, again, who supported him, and I was there at the end of the Bush administration. And I – I know that I was trying to exercise my – you know, responsibility as a senator, and I voted for TARP. And then to see people who did something when the Republicans were in the White House who wouldn’t do it when we had a new Democratic president – although we were losing 800,000 jobs a month and the auto industry was on the brink of total collapse – gives you an idea of what we’re up against. Because there is this ideological purity test that I think, unfortunately, too many Republicans who know better are being subjected to.
So I will go anywhere, talk to anybody, anytime to try to find common ground. To try to achieve our national objective. But I’ll also stand my ground, and I think it’s a constant balance about where one begins and the other one ends. And I think the president was absolutely sincere. I mean, I spent a lot of time with him in the first four years, and he was absolutely sincere.
And he was often – you know, just bewildered that the evidence was clear, the results were going to flow, and the Republicans would privately say, “yeah, you’re right, but I can’t,” or “I won’t.” So we’ve gotta break the stranglehold that the extremist views in the Republican Party have on too many people who are otherwise sensible and try to get them back into the pragmatic problem-solving that should be the hallmark of the relationship between the president and the congress.
And – and I think we have to – you know, really try to build a – a larger base of our own that cuts across all kinds of geographic and – and – and political gradations. You know, let’s try to have a – you know, from a – a center-right to a center-left understanding about certain things, and then let’s have a good old-fashioned argument and fight about progressive values versus the alternative. But there are some things, like not defaulting on our debt, that should not even be the subject of a political argument. It is just beyond my understanding how anybody, despite how extreme he might be, would think it would be in America’s interest to default on our debt.
And so for – whether it’s the president or me or anyone else, you just have to keep trying to build the space as best you can, and look for ways to bring – you know, those who are responsible over to the right side. That’s one of the reasons why we’re hoping that – you know, before Speaker Boehner departs the speakership, there’ll be the vote on the debt limit.On Libya and Syria:
One of the hallmarks of Khadaffi’s dictatorship is that hollow out all the institutions. But there was a very dedicated core of people who were committed to a democratic path forward, and it’s often overlooked. Libya held elections within a year, less than a year after the fall of Khadaffi. They were free, they were fair, they elected moderates. They tried to form a government. They were making progress and they had very little institutional support to do that. There were a number of efforts made, certainly by our government and others, to help them. It was almost as though they didn’t know what to ask for and how to translate any help into changes on the ground.
But there still is a very committed group of people who are trying now to work out the differences. And the differences between the east and the west of the country have been very prominent from the beginning. But next door in Tunisia, a much smaller country of course but with far fewer resources than Libya, they have struggled and worked so hard to find ways to accommodate the different points of view, and they just got the Nobel Prize for having done that. So I’m not prepared to give up on Libya. I think we have to do more to invest in Libya.
I think what happened in, in Syria in many ways is a different story but with perhaps an even worse outcome. Because Assad, when there was the uprising that was legitimate, it wasn’t terrorism, it wasn’t extremists, it was pharmacists and professors and students saying, wait, we’re done. We have to have more freedom. There were so many other ways for him to go because Syria did have institutional structures there. They were oppressive on a lot of the people in the country, but they did exist. Now, though, we have territory that is controlled by, not just ISIS, but other terrorist groups. We have Assad, with the help of the Iranians and the Russians, trying to hang on to the territory that, you know, goes from Damascus up to the coast. And, unless there is some kind of agreement which very well might result in either a confederation or a dismantling along geographic and tribal or religious lines inside Syria, it’s hard to see how there can be anything that would be constructive after Assad.
But I am encouraged that Secretary Kerry is meeting with the Russians, the Turks, the Saudis and others, to see if there isn’t some sort of a political way forward. Part of the reason I have proposed a no-fly zone as a coalition effort, not a United States solo effort, is to have conversations with the Russians at the table. Because the goal of any no-fly zone is not only to provide safe areas for Syrians so they don’t have to be fleeing or continued to be bombed by Assad, supported now by the Russians, but to give some leverage to get everybody at the table, to try to create as much as a cease-fire, including the Assad forces, with the Russians and the Iranians as well.
One of the ways that you do that diplomatically is you put out some ideas like what – we’re going to talk about a no-fly zone and, in fact, I thought it was interesting, you know, on the other side of the argument here, Putin is now saying, OK, now we can talk diplomatically because we’re changing the situation on the ground, and therefore we should come and have some diplomatic consultations. I think the no-fly zone, which the Turks have asked for for a long time and humanitarian organizations have, is a device as well as a potential outcome to see how we get people to the table. And the Russians would be certainly warned. There’s been military discussions now to, as I say, de-conflict air space. So I think it would be highly unlikely, if this were done in the right way…
MADDOW: But ultimately a no-fly zone is an anti-aircraft proposition.
CLINTON: It is, it is. But that doesn’t mean you shoot at every aircraft that might violate it the first or second time.Building on the Obama legacy:
I am a huge Joe Biden admirer, friend, a former colleague, and I know this was an excruciating decision in a time of just such pain and grief for him and his family. He is liberated and I don’t think history is done with him. There is a lot for him and the President to keep doing in the next year and a half. And I want to build on the progress that they are leaving behind. I feel very strongly about that. I want to go further, but I think the real point of this election is whether or not the Republicans are going to be able to turn the clock back and rip away the progress that has been made. So I, I want to support what the President and the Vice President have accomplished.