The Hill and Wolf Blitzer call this Hillary Clinton’s “first live television interview since starting her campaign,” but that’s not entirely correct. Hillary has appeared on softball shows like Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon to dance and have her hair pulled, and while those might not have aired live, they had live audiences. Her interview with CNN’s Blitzer was the first live interview in which Hillary got asked tough questions, and in which Hillary did all she could to keep from answering them.
Oddly, the first question Hillary ducks is an opportunity to offer up a few specific accomplishments during her tenure as Secretary of State. Instead, she tells Blitzer to read her book:
Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” Clinton was forced onto the defense, saying “here’s a long list about what I have done. And I’m very proud of it.”
She suggested people read her book “Hard Choices” to see how she negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and put together the coalition that led to international sanctions against Iran. She said she fought for children’s health insurance as first lady and worked with Republicans to get better health care for veterans as U.S. senator from New York.
Later in the interview (included in full below), Blitzer talks about Chris Christie’s argument in the debate that Hillary should get prosecuted for having classified material transmitted by her secret e-mail server. Christie, Blitzer recalls, said that “Russians, Chinese, and even 18-year-olds could have hacked into your server.” Hillary begins a very strange chuckle about halfway through, shaking her head, but when Blitzer asks if that was possible, she says:
“There’s no evidence of that. And again, you know, this is overheated rhetoric, baseless charges, trying to somehow, you know, gain a footing in the debate and in the primary, and it really doesn’t deserve any comment.”
Later, Hillary claims that “I’m being as transparent as possible … that’s why I turned over my e-mail server.” Hillary seems to forget that she publicly refused to do that for six months, and only relented when the FBI began its probe into the transmission of classified material through her system. Blitzer, inexplicably, never challenges or follows up, moving instead to Donald Trump.
Jeff Dunetz captures Hillary’s attempts to duck Carly Fiorina’s challenge on Planned Parenthood. Blitzer asks whether Hillary has watched the videos, and gets a very long non-answer:
Blitzer: All right. Planned parenthood says that video doesn’t — Madame secretary. I want to explain Planned Parenthood says the video doesn’t depict an aborted fetus. They say that was from a miscarriage had nothing to do with planned parenthood. This is an organization you support. First of all have you seen those very, very controversial videos?
Clinton: Well, Wolf, let’s break down what’s happening here. Because I think it’s important. I know that there’s a move on by some of the republicans in the congress to actually shut down the United States government over their demand that we no longer give federal funding to planned parenthood to perform the really necessary health services they do for millions of women. So let’s put aside for a moment here that there is no debate and there should be absolutely no argument that Planned Parenthood does cancer screenings, it helps provide family planning and contraceptive advice. It works to provide, you know, some of the most difficult kinds of counseling when it comes to giving an HIV test, for example. What this is about is the fact that some of the Planned Parenthood facilities perform abortions, which is legal under the laws of the United States. I understand that the Republican Party and particularly the candidates we heard from last night wish that were not the case. Wish that abortion were illegal and they could turn the clock back. So I think we ought to be very clear that Planned Parenthood has served to provide health care, necessary health care, for millions of women. And I think it deserves not only our support but the continuing funding from the federal government so that these women and girls who are seeking the kinds of services that are provided will be able to achieve that.
In short: no. That’s an interesting position to take, by the way. Why exactly does Planned Parenthood “deserve our support” — taxpayer dollars, in other words? Do they still deserve federal funding if they’re breaking the law? Would a defense contractor who breaks the law still deserve federal contracts, and would Hillary refuse to look at undercover video of discussions of that lawbreaking because they’ve done good work in the past, and insist that their contracts go unquestioned by Congress?
Later, Blitzer asks about this very point of lawbreaking, and Hillary “tap-danced around that one also,” Jeff notes:
Blitzer: Are you confident that Planned Parenthood, madame secretary, or any of its affiliated groups if you will haven’t violated any federal laws?”
Clinton: Well, Wolf, let me tell you what I know. And that is there is a willingness on the part of Planned Parenthood to answer questions. They have been doing so. Some people may not want to hear the answers, but they have certainly put those answers out there into the public arena.
Actually, they’ve refused to answer questions before Congress on these videos. They’re not “willing to answer questions,” they’re avoiding questions by claiming that the conversations were taken out of context. Planned Parenthood and their defenders, Hillary included, are demanding taxpayer dollars without accountability. On that point, one can see why Hillary considers them an ally.
The Hill’s focus was on the potential for more Democratic debates. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resisted adding more debate events to the schedule, and the first won’t take place until October, but other Democrats are accusing Wasserman Schultz of rigging the system for Hillary. Blitzer asks if Hillary would do more debates, and she says, sure … just as soon as the DNC chair decides to hold more of them:
“I look forward to the debate next month, now just a month away. I will certainly show up anywhere the Democratic National Committee (DNC) tells us to show up,” Clinton said Thursday afternoon on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
“I want us to have a good exchange of ideas and to make sure that Democratic voters, first, and then general voters to follow see exactly what we stand for.”
Clinton wouldn’t explicitly call on the DNC to add debates when asked, telling Blitzer that the decision is the party’s to make.
“They’ve made their decision, but I’ve made it clear that if they want to do more, I’m happy to do them,” she said.
I’ll bet. It’s taken seven months for Hillary to get around to doing live interviews with actual news broadcasters, and she’d be happy to wait for another seven months before having to stand on stage and ask questions in a format that allows other candidates to challenge her. At least she knows that her fellow Democrats won’t pin her down on Planned Parenthood.