A conversation with Hillary Clinton

New York Senator Hillary Clinton just chatted with me via phone.  One of my questions was about the donations her campaign received from Norman Hsu

Henderson:  "Your campaign announced last night it woud be donating to charity these campaign contributions from Mr. Hsu.  Will you be returning any of the donations which — as a so-called bundler — this Mr. Hsu solicited from others on your behalf?"

Clinton:  "Well everyone was obviously surprised to learn this news and my campaign has taken action in returning his contributions and I’m hopeful he will be taking steps to address the matters he faces.  We regularly review contributions as we receive them and will continue to do so and if we have any reason to return any contributions, we will do that."

Henderson:  "Are you specifically looking at the donations which he solicited on your behalf in a particular review?"

Clinton: "Well, we’re looking at all the questions raised.  Our campaign has a very vigorous vetting process and unfortunately no one knew there was this issue that has arisen and so we’re taking a hard look at all of the contributions."

Updated with more quotes below:.

Rewinding to the first question of Clinton.

Henderson:  "You campaigned in Iowa with your husband over the 4th of July and you plan to spend Labor Day here together as well.  What exactly are the benefits and risks to your campaign in having your husband campaign at your side?  Maybe borrowing a word from one of your campaign ads — does not having your husband on the trail make you a bit more invisible to voters?"

Clinton laughed.  "Well, I don’t think so, obviously," she began in answer to the question.  "I’m excited to have him with me.  He can’t campaign very often with me so, you know, holidays give us a chance to be together on the campaign trail and he is so interested in the campaign in Iowa because, of coruse, he didn’t really go through that experience in 1992, so here I am doing something that he never had a chance to do himself and he is fascinated and wants to be as involved & helpful as his schedule permits.  But I think it does several things.  Number one, I love having him with me and getting to spend that time together.  Number two, it really does help to elevate the issues that we’re campaigning on because I was very proud of the record that was made on the economy and the efforts that we made on health care, particularly creating the children’s health insurance program and so much else, ending up with a balanced budget and a surplus at the end of two terms of my husband and yet I’m very well aware, as he is, that every election is about the future and I’ve had the opportunity in the senate to work on issues that he really didn’t have a chance to address, like a new energy future and global warming and homeland security so it’s really an exciting opportunity for us to talk about what did work and those things we can look to in terms of approaches and values to bring with us into the future but it is about my campaign and my positions and what I believe I can do as president, so it’s exciting."

Next were those questions about Norman Hsu transcribed at the top, followed by this.

Henderson: "During the last debate here in Des Moines at that very early hour…"

Clinton:  "Yes, indeed."

Henderson:  "…you and your rivals were asked about what folks call your negatives and whether you as your party’s nominee could win in a general election.  I think you were only given about 30 seconds or so to answer that question, but as I talk with Democrats that issue of electability seems to be the paramount issue in the minds of Democrats. For Iowa Democrats who are thinking about electability and these ‘negatives’ what is your answer to Iowa Democrats who have that concern?"

Clinton:  "Well, I share that concern.  I would not be running unless I were convinced I was the best Democrat both to win and to govern starting in January, 2009.  I entered this campaign with my eyes wide open, well aware of how difficult a presidential campaign is and I’ve been gratified by the growing support that I have across the country, including in Iowa and I think it’s because people are making their own judgments about me just as they did in New York when I started running there for the senate and I heard the same things that we hear today from the pundits and prognosticators about how I couldn’t win and you know all of the doomsayers, but in fact a campaign gives a candidate, particularly someone like me, the chance to have a really open conversation with voters.  I want people to make their judgments on accurate information because I’m well aware that there’s a lot of other stuff that swirls around all the time and I am very pleased that so many people are, you know, meeting me, listening to me, watching the debates and reaching the same conclusion that voters in New York reached, that this is someone who I want to support.  Not only is she electable but she can do the job that I want her to do and that’s why I won re-election with 67 percent of the votes from a lot of Republicans and rural voters and farmers and small town folks who concluded that, you know, I was their champion and I would be a continuing force for change and in this presidential election as I travel around Iowa that’s the case that I’m making to people, that my qualifications and experience to bring about the changes as our nation’s president that everybody talks to me about it really going to win the day for the nomination and then the election and in all of the match-ups that are going on now between me and the Republicans, I’m very pleased to be doing so well.  The next four months will be the real, hard months of this campaign.  We’re at a turning point now as Labor Day often is in the political season, but I am very encouraged that people are giving me a fair assessment and they’re very often coming away supporting me and working for me and I’m very much excited by what I see as the momentum that my candidacy has."

A couple of other questions were asked.  More later.   

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Mitch Henry says

    I guess the answer is No. Why did Hillary Clinton refuse to answer the question directly? I heard reports earlier today that Mr. Hsu raised nearly 1 million for her campaign through the bundling of donations. This is specifically what the other Democratic candidates (Barack Obama & John Edwards) have been talking about – campaign contributions from special interests (lobbyist & political action committees). The new ethics reform bill recently passed by congress restricts the bundling of campaign contributions by lobbyist.