Hillary Clinton used her first nationally televised interview since becoming a candidate to insist that voters can and do trust her, and that when it comes to attacks on her honesty, she has "confidence that the American people can sort it all out."
"Well, people should and do trust me, and I have every confidence that that will be the outcome of this election," Clinton told CNN's Brianna Keilar Tuesday in a 20-minute interview. "I cannot decide what the attacks on me will be, no matter how unfounded."
Clinton continued by saying that both she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have faced a similar "onslaught" of attacks in every race they've run.
"This has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years," she said. "... I think it's understandable that when questions are raised, people are thinking about them and maybe wondering about them. But I have every confidence that over the course of this campaign, people are going to know who will fight for them."
She again defended her use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department, saying that she went "above and beyond" what federal law required her to do.
"Everything I did was permitted. There was no law, there was no regulation, there was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate," Clinton said. "Previous secretaries of State have said they did the same thing, and people across the government knew that I used one device. Maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as simple as possible."
When asked about allegations of wrongdoing at the Clinton Foundation, Clinton reiterated that she's proud of the organization's work and would not plan to suspend or shut it down if she's elected in 2016. "I have no plans to say or do anything about the Clinton Foundation other than to say how proud I am of it, and I think that for the good of the world its work should continue."
Clinton also went on the attack on immigration, accusing her Republican competitors of being "hostile" toward immigrants and saying GOP candidate Jeb Bush "doesn't believe in a path to citizenship."
"They don't want to provide a path to citizenship. They range across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants. "¦ I think that's a mistake," Clinton said. "I think we know we're not going to deport 11 or 12 million people."
Clinton zeroed in on Bush, the former Florida governor who could make inroads among Latino voters in the 2016 election. Clinton pushed early in her campaign for a full path to citizenship, seeking to differentiate herself from even GOP candidates like Bush who are more open to reforms. "Well, he doesn't believe in a path to citizenship," Clinton said of Bush. "If he did at one time, he no longer does."
Clinton also commented on Donald Trump's recent remarks about Mexicans and immigrants.
"I'm very disappointed in those comments," she said. "I feel very bad and very disappointed with him—and with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying, 'Enough, stop it.'"
The CNN appearance marks Clinton's first national interview since becoming a presidential candidate almost three months ago. Clinton has long had a fraught relationship with the press, as was well-known during her 2008 campaign—and while her 2016 team includes seasoned handlers who individually have good relationships with the press, Clinton has still come under fire for her lack of access to reporters in the early phase of her campaign.
Clinton began the campaign taking only sporadic questions from reporters on the campaign trail, at one point going almost a month without even an informal press availability. And before her formal announcement in April, Clinton communicated primarily via tweets on key news events and major issues. After her kickoff rally in New York in mid-June, she gave a series of interviews to local news outlets in key early states, such as The Des Moines Register in Iowa and WMUR in New Hampshire.
And on Saturday, while the candidate marched in a Fourth of July parade in Gorham, New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign physically corralled reporters with a rope line to keep them away from the candidate. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri defended the move as necessary to allow Clinton space to interact with voters. "So we try to allow as much access as possible, but my view is, it can't get in the way of her being able to campaign, right?" she said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
Asked by Keilar about her reasons for finally granting a national interview, Clinton said her campaign has a "different rhythm.
"I'm not running my campaign for the press, I'm running it for voters," she said. "I totally respect the press and what the press has to do, but I wanted and was determined to have the time I needed to actually meet and listen to people."
She continued: "Obviously I'll do more press—I did local press all along, the last three months, because again it was interesting to see what questions the local press would be asking me."
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