#TBT: Clinton's Memorable Debate Moments

- October 7, 2015

10 Of Clinton's Most Memorable Debate Moments From Her Last Campaign …That She'll Want You To Forget


Clinton Accused NBC's Tim Russert Of Playing "Gotcha" During A Tense Debate Exchange On If She Supported Drivers Licenses For Illegal Immigrants. NBC's TIM RUSSERT: "Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants a driver's license? You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, paper it made a lot of sense." CLINTON: "It…" RUSSERT: "Do you support his plan?" CLINTON: "You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem. We have failed, and George Bush has failed. Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York we want to know who's in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows. He's making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Debate At Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, 10/30/07)

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Clinton: "I Will Say We Will Opt Out Of NAFTA Unless We Renegotiate It, And We Renegotiate On Terms That Are Favorable To All Of America." NBC's TIM RUSSERT: "I want to ask you both about NAFTA because the record, I think, is clear. And I want to -- Senator Clinton. Senator Obama said that you did say in 2004 that on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America. You did say that. When President Clinton signed this bill -- and this was after he negotiated two new side agreements, for labor and environment -- President Clinton said it would be a force for economic growth and social progress. You said in '96 it was proving its worth as free and fair trade. You said that -- in 2000 -- it was a good idea that took political courage. So your record is pretty clear. Based on that, and which you're now expressing your discomfort with it, in the debate that Al Gore had with Ross Perot, Al Gore said the following: 'If you don't like NAFTA and what it's done, we can get out of it in six months. The president can say to Canada and Mexico, we are out. This has not been a good agreement.' Will you as president say we are out of NAFTA in six months?" CLINTON: "I have said that I will renegotiate NAFTA, so obviously, you'd have to say to Canada and Mexico that that's exactly what we're going to do. But you know, in fairness…" RUSSERT: "Just because…maybe Clinton…" CLINTON: "Yes, I am serious." RUSSERT: "You will get out. You will notify Mexico and Canada, NAFTA is gone in six months." CLINTON: "No, I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Debate At Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, 2/26/08)

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In A 2008 Primary Debate, Clinton Said That Her Health Care Plan "Tells People, If You Have Health Insurance And You Are Happy With It, Nothing Changes." HILLARY CLINTON:" Well, let me start by saying that this is the passionate cause of my public service. I started trying to expand health care many years ago, first to children, then to rural areas in Arkansas, and obviously tackled it during my husband's administration. And the reason why I have designed a plan that, number one, tells people, if you have health insurance and you are happy with it, nothing changes, is because we want to maximize choice for people." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Debate, Los Angeles, CA, 1/31/08)

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Clinton Suggested That Obama's Former Reverend Had An Affiliation With The Terrorist Group Hamas. ABC's CHARLES GIBSON: "I'm getting a little out of balance here. Do you want to take a few seconds or do you want to go to the next question?" CLINTON: "I think in addition to the questions about Reverend Wright and what he said and when he said it, and for whatever reason he might have said these things, there were so many different variations on the explanations that we heard. And it is something that I think deserves further exploration because clearly, what we've got to figure out is how we're going to bring people together in a way that overcomes the anger, overcomes the divisiveness and whatever bitterness there may be out there. You know? It is clear that, as leaders, we have a choice who we associate with and who we apparently give some kind of seal of approval to. And I think that it wasn't only the specific remarks but some of the relationships with Reverend Farrakhan, with, you know, giving the church bulletin over to the leader of Hamas, to put a message in. You know, these are problems. And they raise questions in people's minds. And, so, this is a legitimate area, as everything is, when we run for office, for people to be exploring and trying to find answers." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Debate, Philadelphia, PA, 4/16/08)

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A Pennsylvania Voter Asked Clinton, " How Do You Reconcile The Campaign Credibility That You Have When You Made Those Comments About What Happened Getting Off The Plane In Bosnia, Which Totally Misrepresented What Really Happened On That Day?" ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: "Senator Clinton, we also did a poll today. And there's also questions about you raised in this poll. About six in 10 voters that we talk to say they don't believe you're honest and trustworthy. And we asked a lot of Pennsylvania voters for questions that they had. A lot them raised this honesty issue and your comments about being under sniper fire in Bosnia. Here's Tom Rooney from Pittsburgh." TOM ROONEY: "Senator Clinton, I was in your court until a couple weeks ago. How do you reconcile the campaign credibility that you have when you made those comments about what happened getting off the plane in Bosnia, which totally misrepresented what really happened on that day? You really lost my vote. And what can you tell me to get that vote back?" CLINTON: "Well, Tom, I can tell you that I may be a lot of things. But I'm not dumb. And I wrote about going to Bosnia in my book in 2004. I laid it all out there. And you're right. On a couple of occasions in the last weeks, I just said some things that weren't in keeping with what I knew to be the case and what I had written about in my book. And, you know, I'm embarrassed by it. I have apologized for it. I've said it was a mistake. And it is, I hope, something that you can look over because, clearly, I am proud that I went to Bosnia. It was a war zone. General Wesley Clark is here in the audience with me, as one of my major supporters. He and I were talking about it before I came out." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Debate, Philadelphia, PA, 4/16/08)

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In 2008, Then-Candidate Obama Said His Health Care Plan Was "About 95 Percent" Similar To Clinton's Plan. OBAMA: "Let's take health care. About 95 percent of our plans are similar." (Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential Debate, Los Angeles, CA, 1/31/08)

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Clinton Said She Didn't "Want To Be Used For Propaganda Purposes." CNN's ANDERSON COOPER: "I just want to check in with Stephen if he believes he got an answer to his question." QUESTION: "I seem to have a microphone in my hand. Well, I'd be interested in knowing what Hillary has to say to that question." COOPER: "Senator Clinton?" CLINTON: "Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy. And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Debate At The Citadel, Charleston, SC 7/23/07)

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Clinton Said Attending Jeremiah Wright's Chicago Church "Would Have Been Intolerable For Me." ABC's CHARLES GIBSON GIBSON: "Senator Clinton, let me … I'm sorry, go ahead. Senator Clinton, let me follow up, and let me add to that. You have said that he would not have been my pastor, and you said that you have to speak out against those kinds of remarks, and implicitly by getting up and moving, and I presume you mean out of the church. There are 8,000 members of Senator Obama's church. And we have heard the inflammatory remarks of Reverend Wright, but so too have we heard testament to many great things that he did. Do you honestly believe that 8,000 people should have gotten up and walked out of that church?" CLINTON: "I was asked a personal question, Charlie, and I gave a personal answer. Obviously, one's choice of church and pastor is rooted in what one believes is what you're seeking in church and what kind of, you know, fellowship you find in church. But I have to say that, you know, for Pastor Wright to have given his first sermon after 9/11 and to have blamed the United States for the attack, which happened in my city of New York, would have been intolerable for me. And therefore I would have not been able to stay in the church, and maybe it's, you know, just, again, a personal reflection that regardless of whatever good is going on -- and I have no reason to doubt that a lot of good things were happening in that church -- you get to choose your pastor. You don't choose your family, but you get to choose your pastor. And when asked a direct question, I said I would not have stayed in the church." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Debate, Philadelphia, PA, 4/16/08)

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In Discussing Ronald Reagan's Legacy, Obama Told Clinton He Had Been Working Against Reagan's Policies While She Was "A Corporate Lawyer Sitting On The Board At Wal-Mart." CLINTON: "You talked about admiring Ronald Reagan and you talked about the ideas..." OBAMA: "Hillary, I'm sorry. You just..." CNN's WOLF BLITZER: "Senator..." CLINTON: "I didn't talk about Reagan." OBAMA: "Hillary, we just had the tape. You just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true. What I said -- and I will provide you with a quote -- what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart." (Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential Debate, Myrtle Beach, SC, 1/21/08)

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Clinton Retorted Back That Obama Had Been Representing His Contributor "Rezko, In His Slum Landlord Business In Inner City Chicago." CLINTON: "Now, I just -- I just want to be clear about this. In an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name." OBAMA: "Your husband did." CLINTON: "Well, I'm here. He's not. And…" OBAMA: "Okay. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes." CLINTON: "Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that. But you also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years." OBAMA: "I didn't say they were good ones." CLINTON: "Well, you can read the context of it." OBAMA: "Well, I didn't say they were good ones." CLINTON: "Well, it certainly..." OBAMA: "All right, Wolf." CLINTON: "It certainly came across in the way that it was presented, as though the Republicans had been standing up against the conventional wisdom with their ideas. I'm just reacting to the fact, yes, they did have ideas, and they were bad ideas." OBAMA: "I agree." CLINTON: "Bad for America, and I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Debate, Myrtle Beach, SC, 1/21/08)

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Clinton Accused Obama Of Taking Lines From Then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Saying Obama Was Offering "Change You Can Xerox." CNN's CAMPBELL BROWN: "Senator Clinton, is it the silly season?" CLINTON: "Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition. And you know -- you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in; it's change you can Xerox. And I just don't think…" OBAMA: "Oh, but that -- that's not what happened there." CLINTON: "No, but -- you know, but Barack, it is, because if -- you know, if you look…if you look…if you look…if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions." (Hillary Clinton, Democratic Debate At The University Of Texas, Austin, TX, 2/21/08)

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