Hillary lets Republicans have it: 6 takeaways from her first post-launch interview

Speaking with reporters in Iowa, Clinton offers more clues on the kind of campaign she'll run

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published June 15, 2015 3:11PM (EDT)

 (Justin Wan/The Sioux City Journal via AP)
(Justin Wan/The Sioux City Journal via AP)

Following her official campaign kick-off rally at New York's Roosevelt Island on Saturday, Hillary Clinton sat down with two Iowa reporters, Jennifer Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register and Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, for her first official interview as a 2016 presidential candidate.

Clinton, who has frequented the state in recent months on a so-called "listening tour" with Iowa voters, made some news during the 20 minute-long interview. Here are some key takeaways:

1. She's promises to not turn her back on Barack Obama 

After making clear her intentions to run as her own candidate and introduce her own unique policy proposals, Clinton promised to not run from the Obama record. "I'm also not going to turn my back on what has worked in having successful Democratic presidencies for the good of our country," Clinton said.

"It's not like I am saying, you know, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are not going to influence how I see the world. I am a Democrat. I believe that our country was stronger, more inclusive, produced more jobs with more rising incomes with two Democratic presidents who both inherited the problems of their Republican predecessors."

2. Clinton ripped into Republicans, saying they suffer "collective amnesia"

The candidate pushed hard against "those who want to turn the clock back" and "go back to the failed economic policies of the past."

Clinton promised to "to do all I can to pierce the collective amnesia that the Republicans are trying to impose on people. We're not supposed to remember that the 12 years preceding Bill Clinton quadrupled the debt of our country? We're not supposed to remember that when he left office we had a balanced budget with a surplus? And if it had been continued would've paid off the national debt? We're not supposed to remember that Barack Obama inherited the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression and had to pull us out of the ditch? And did a better job than he gets credit for? And we're not supposed to remember that finally after five presidents trying all the way back to Truman, we got an Affordable Care Act?"

3. She sides with Nancy Pelosi over Obama on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement

Clinton told Radio Iowa that “any trade agreement is going to be fraught with all sorts of problems,” adding that "in today’s world it is a very hard road to manage any trade agreement, especially with so many parties."

Earlier, Clinton told a rally of 700 in Iowa that she supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's opposition to the free trade deal negotiated by the White House and once championed by Clinton herself as secretary of state, insisting that the U.S. should "make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don't get it, there should be no deal."

"I think what Nancy Pelosi said on the floor when she voted to essentially stop it is the right approach to take," Clinton said, adding that President Obama should use the opportunity to "persuade the persuadable" and "take the lemons and turn them into lemonade."

4. "Veep" helped America warm a to a woman President. 

[caption id="attachment_13671431" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep.""][/caption]

Clinton thanked Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Veep" and Tea Leoni's "Madam Secretary" with cultivating an "eagerness" towards "the idea of a woman president."

"A lot of different cultural references, which I find both fascinating and kind of reinforcing, because it does take a leap of faith of imagination for people to envision a woman in the Oval Office, and oftentimes culture, entertainment is ahead of the political system in lots of ways," she said.

5. “I will have to do a better job of explaining my record" on Wall Street. 

Clinton admitted that her record as Senator of New York will need to be clarified and promised to outline specific Wall Street reforms "that will address the continuing risks" from Wall Street banks to reassure skeptics.

6. About those haters

The former first lady, senator, and secretary of state laughed off her legions of haters, saying, "I think that a lot the political heat that is directed at me is kind of a strange form of respect and even flattery, you know, because if they weren't so concerned about me they'd leave me alone but they get up everyday worried that the case I'm making will break through and the facts that I am making the case based on will be understood by enough people that we not only will have a successful campaign but an agenda on which to govern."

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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