During an interview on Wednesday morning with the Democratic victor in the New Hampshire primary, CNN’s Kiran Chetry asked Hillary Clinton if there was a hint of sexism in the response to the senator’s apparent show of emotion in the lead-up to the vote. "Do you think it's a double standard or a little harder because you're a woman to show you're a strong leader, but also be able to show some of your human side?"
In addition to this emotion/gender issue, Chetry, like her co-host John Roberts had done two days earlier, questioned Hillary about the Iraq war, specifically about the success of the troop surge. "You opposed the troop increase when the president proposed it, even introduced legislation to try to reverse it. Since then though, the attacks have fallen by 60% and a lot of the observers say that the surge is working. Do you acknowledge that the surge is working now?"
Clinton acknowledged the recent downturn in violence, but then went on to claim that "that was not the purpose of the surge. The purpose of the surge was to try to convince the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that, so far, it has not made. So, I don't believe that that is a real justification, and we've had such a terrible year in the loss of American lives."
Chetry’s final question dealt with Bill Clinton’s "fairy tale" critique of Barack Obama’s record on the Iraq war. "Do you think that your husband Bill Clinton was playing fair in characterizing Obama's record on Iraq?" Hillary, with a bit of nuance, did not contradict her husband’s take on Obama.
The full transcript of the interview, which aired 15 minutes into 7 am Eastern hour of Wednesday’s "American Morning:"
KIRAN CHETRY: Well, it was an amazing win for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire last night, considered to be on the ropes after a loss to Barack Obama in Iowa. Senator Clinton bounced back in the Granite State.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON, NEW YORK: Let's give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me.
CHETRY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Democratic ballot for president now for real? I'm sure it was all along. But how does it change the game this morning? How did Senator Clinton do it? She's joins us from Chappaqua, New York, getting probably, what, a few minutes' rest in your own bedroom before you have to get out there again and get back on the campaign trail to South Carolina?
CLINTON: That's true, just a few minutes of rest. But it's great to be home. I'm so excited about the win last night. It was a great moment for me, and I think it really demonstrated what the people of New Hampshire have time and time again. They take a hard look at everybody. They ask a lot of tough questions, and they render their judgment. They're famously independent and they sure showed it last night.
CHETRY: Here's what the New York tabloids had to say this morning, 'The Daily News' saying 'Who's Crying Now?' And 'The New York Post' -- 'Back From the Dead.' You know, you couldn't talk to an advisor yesterday before the election who wasn't saying that you were going to lose in New Hampshire. What do you think changed between the polling and the voting that brought you a win?
CLINTON: Well, I was, I guess, about 15 points down, and we had a debate on Saturday that really helped to clarify a lot of the issues in this campaign. And I campaigned really, really hard across New Hampshire, answered hundreds of questions, really had a lot of personal experiences with voters, covered as much of the, you know, record that I'm presenting to people as I could, and talked about my vision and, you know, my dreams for America's future. And I went out to see some of our poll workers at a couple of places starting before dawn yesterday. I felt really good. You know, I don't pay a lot of attention when people say that I'm up or when people say that I'm down. I sort of, you know, take my own measure of what voters are doing, and I came back from going to all of those polling places, and I really believed that I had a very good chance to win. Nobody else believed it, but all day, I did. And I'm very grateful that the people of New Hampshire gave me that victory last night.
CHETRY: You know, you talk about the message getting out there. But perhaps it was also the way the message was delivered. In fact, a lot of people in the last 24 hours of the campaign, the talk of New Hampshire, was your display of emotion. Let's take a look.
CLINTON: You know, I had so many opportunities from this country. I just don't want to see us fall backwards, you know? So -- you know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, not just public. I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it.
CHETRY: You know, even your top advisor Terry McAuliffe said that you made up ground in large part because people had a chance to see your human side. Do you think that pushed you over the edge in New Hampshire?
CLINTON: Oh, I don't know what all of the factors were. But I'm really glad that I had a chance to say what I believe with all of my heart. That, you know, politics isn't a game. It's not a horse race. It's about people's lives. You know, that's why I do what I do. It's obviously really, really hard to get up every day and, you know, go out and stand up for people who don't have a voice, don't have a advocate. Sometimes, they're just rendered invisible. But that's what I think we're supposed to be doing, and I've done it for 35 years. And there was a, just a really wonderful moment there when, you know, people, I think, got a sense of why I do what I do, and why I think it's so important, and why I think I'm going to wage this campaign for the future of our country, and to give everybody the same set of chances that I was given. That's what I believe should be really the American birthright, so that everybody can live up to his or her God-given potential.
CHETRY: It is interesting though, because Governor Romney has teared up in interviews. We've seen our current president also become emotional and be moved to tears at times. But so much was made over the fact that you -- your voice waivered a little bit in that response to voter's question. Do you think it's a double standard or a little harder because you're a woman to show you're a strong leader, but also be able to show some of your human side?
CLINTON: Oh, I don't think so. I don't think anybody doubts that I'm a strong leader. I think that, you know, people, you know, know that I can lead. I have the experience to lead. And I believe that over the course of these four days in New Hampshire, more people, not just in New Hampshire but around the country, realized that, you know, the reason I do this is because I love this country, just so profoundly, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that it does fulfill the promises. We need to deliver on all of the change that everybody talks about. And when the camera's turned off and the speeches are done, what have we actually accomplished for people to give them a better life. That's what I care about.
CHETRY: Another one of the big issues, in fact the number two issue among voters polled, was Iraq, in New Hampshire. You opposed the troop increase when the president proposed it, even introduced legislation to try to reverse it. Since then though, the attacks have fallen by 60% and a lot of the observers say that the surge is working. Do you acknowledge that the surge is working now?
CLINTON: Well, I have the highest admiration for our young men and women in uniform, and I always assumed that they would, in greater numbers, be able to suppress a lot of the violence that, unfortunately, has plagued the Iraqi people and resulted in so many deaths and injuries. But that was not the purpose of the surge. The purpose of the surge was to try to convince the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that, so far, it has not made. So, I don't believe that that is a real justification, and we've had such a terrible year in the loss of American lives. Even though the violence is now down, 2007 was the worst year for American casualties since this all began. So, I still believe that nobody is better than American military. But it's time for us to begin to withdraw our troops, and to tell the Iraqi government they do not have a blank check any longer. They've got to start, you know, making the tough decisions that only they can make for their countty, and that's what we'll support them in doing, but we're going bring our troops home.
CHETRY: You know, your husband, Bill Clinton also said that the media failed to be as tough on Barack Obama when it came to Iraq policy, accusing Obama of shifting his position on the war and calling it a fairy tale. Obama fired back by saying that he felt that your campaign was distorting his record, and that it's because you were frustrated. Do you think that your husband Bill Clinton was playing fair in characterizing Obama's record on Iraq?
OBAMA: Well, I don't know about the characterization, but the facts are indisputable. You know, Senator Obama made a speech in 2002 against the war in Iraq, and he deserves credit for that. Then by 2004, he was publicly saying that he didn't know how he would have voted, had he actually been in the Senate, and actually agreed with George Bush on the conduct of the war. He said he would never vote to fund the war, and then in 2005 and '06 and '07, he voted for $300 billion worth of funding. Those are the facts, and I'm not going characterize them. I'm just going to, you know, describe them, and I think people with draw their own conclusions.
CHETRY: All right. Senator Hillary Clinton is off to South Carolina. Congratulations on your New Hampshire win, and thanks so much for being with us.
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.