Hillary Clinton Tells Gwen Ifill Comparing Her Comments to Romney is ‘False Equivalency'

Appearing on Wednesday evening’s PBS NewsHour to discuss her book with Gwen Ifill, Hillary Clinton was forced to again explain her comments regarding wealth. Ifill told Clinton that those kind of comments tend to “stick. Ask Romney.” The former Secretary of State shot back, “Well, that’s a false equivalency.”

Gwen Ifill mentioned to Clinton that her husband “was forced to defend you at his own conference.” Hillary thought it was “sweet” of her husband, but said she doesn’t “need anybody to defend my record.”

Attempting to defend her “dead broke” comments, she said that her “inartful words” don’t change anything about who she is. Clinton then rattled through the list of domestic policies she favors that she believes will help the middle class such as higher minimum wage, equal pay, and paid family leave.

After arguing that her remarks about not being wealthy cannot be equated with Romney’s wealth gaffes in 2012, Clinton talked about going shopping at the grocery store and talking with her “neighbors.” By her neighbors, she is referring to her average, middle class neighbors in Chappaqua, NY. Really? According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in Chappaqua, NY is $105, 541.

She touted her record as Senator and Secretary of State and said that people can take her comments “out of context” and try to “create a caricature”, but it doesn’t change where she “came from” and “who she is.”

Clinton seemed completely uninterested in addressing the question of appearing to be in a “bubble” like the media often accuses wealthy Republicans of being in. Ifill’s questions were decent, but it would have been far more interesting to hear Ifill ask Hillary Clinton about the media double standard when it comes to wealthy Republicans versus rich Democrats. But Ifill seemed more interested in keeping the questions safe so as not to upset her liberal friend.

The relevant portion of the interview is transcribed below:

PBS
NewsHour
June 25, 2014
7:26 p.m. Eastern

GWEN IFILL: You’re in Denver for the Clinton Global Initiative conference here, and your husband was forced to defend you at his own conference. He was asked about this idea, that you are now, that there’s a caricature forming of you because of a few things you’ve said, that you are wealthy and out of touch, and President Clinton said “she’s not out of touch.” Is it your fault that the conversation has turned to that?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said, but my inartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today. Bill and I have had terrific opportunities, both of us, you know, have worked hard, but we’ve been grateful for everything that we’ve been able to achieve, and sadly that’s just not true for most Americans today.

So many Americans are feeling, you know, shut out, shut down, the great recession hasn’t ended for too many Americans, wages are flat, families are struggling, not enough new jobs, or new businesses are being created, and it’s important that we all try to figure out what we’re going to do, and that’s what I’ve done my entire life, fighting for a higher minimum wage, or family leave, now paid family leave which I believe in, equal pay for equal work, I have a very long record so, you know, my attitude about this, Gwen, is that if others want to, you know, take things out of context or try to create some caricature…

IFILL: But it sticks, sometimes. Ask Mitt Romney

CLINTON: That’s a false equivalency. People can judge me for what I’ve done. And I think when somebody’s out in the public eye, that’s what they do. So I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for and what I’ve always stood for.

IFILL: What I meant by Mitt Romney is there’s a bubble problem sometimes where you can be cut off from people in a regular way. George H.W. Bush you remember had that with the gallon of milk. How do you avoid that?

CLINTON: I think if you come from where I came from and where I have always been, I’ve always been reaching out and whether it’s talking with our neighbors or going shopping or standing, talking to people in these bookstores and hearing what’s on their minds, or even the work I did for eight years as a senator to bring new jobs to New York and stand up for the people I represented. And frankly as I traveled around as Secretary of State, as I write in the book, part of what I was trying to do was to figure out ways to create more jobs at home, by standing up against the unfair competition and the barriers to American businesses, that hurt American workers. I don’t, my husband was very sweet today, but I don’t need anybody to defend my record, I think my record speaks for itself.

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.