Hillary Clinton rips GOP on immigration: She says their problem is much bigger than Trump

In first television interview, Clinton slams 2016 GOPers as the "in the same general area on immigration” as Trump

By Sophia Tesfaye

Published July 7, 2015 10:24PM (EDT)

  (AP/Pat Sullivan)
(AP/Pat Sullivan)

During her first nationally televised interview of her 2016 campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the possibility of another a Bush v. Clinton election a quarter century after her husband's first presidential election is a coincidence in an America in which "anybody can run for president."

CNN's Brianna Keilar also asked Clinton about Republican candidate Donald Trump's recent comments equating Mexican immigrants to "rapists." Keilar noted that Trump had previously donated to the Clinton Foundation but that didn't stop Clinton from railing against Trump, saying "I’m very disappointed in those comments and I feel very bad and very disappointed with him.”

But Clinton was quick to pivot from Trump to the entire Republican field, telling Keilar that she was also disappointed “with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying enough, stop it. But they are all in the, you know, in the same general area on immigration,” she said. “They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile towards immigrants.”

Clinton singled out Jeb Bush specifically, noting, "He doesn't believe in a path to citizenship. If he did at one time, he no longer does." And distinguishing herself from the GOP field, Clinton said, "“I am 100% behind comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.”

But not all Republican candidates oppose comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a long shot hopeful, was quick to remind CNN's Maeve Reston that he, in fact, has been a long time supporter of a pathway to citizenship.

And as for those pesky emails? Clinton dismissed the affair as the latest in a long saga of Republican investigations into the Clintons. "This is being blown up with no basis in law or in fact. That's fine, I get it -- this is being, in effect, used by the Republicans in the Congress. OK," Clinton said. "But I want people to understand what the truth is, and the truth is, everything I did was permitted and I went above and beyond what was expected."

Keilar delved into other areas of controversy for Clinton, asking if she would consider shutting down the Clinton Foundation if she were to win the White House. Clinton defended the nonprofit's work as "critical," saying, "I have no plans to say or do anything about the Clinton foundation other than to say I am proud of it and I think for the good of the world, its work should continue."

Clinton surmised much of the foundation's success stemmed from the work of her husband, saying, "maybe it's because it's because my husband knows so many people in the world and he is so creative and he is so smart but he was able to put together solutions to problems wether it was HIV/AIDS or childhood obesity in our country or expanding farm productivity in Africa that was hard for other to do."

And Clinton, who supported so-called "sanctuary cities" during her last presidential run, was forceful in her criticism of San Francisco for ignoring immigration detention requests from the federal government. An undocumented immigrant who had been deported multiple times was arrested in the recent killing of a young woman, and Donald Trump has used the murder to bolster his argument that Mexican immigrants are criminals. "The city made a mistake not to deport someone that the federal government thought should be deported ... I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence that should be acted on," Clinton said, but she made clear that such scrutiny would not be required for minor or misdemeanor charges.

Clinton also weighed in on the debate over adding a woman to the 10 dollar bill, saying "it may be more appropriate to look at the 20 than the 10."

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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2016 Elections Cnn Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton