In her first live interview of the 2016 campaign via satellite, Hillary Clinton spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during Thursday's The Situation Room and received a free pass from Blitzer in allowing her to dodge a question about whether she’s viewed the horrifying Planned Parenthood videos. He asked only two questions, in a 14-and-a-half-minute interview, about her e-mail scandal.
Blitzer first remarked to Clinton at the onset that she “certainly did take a lot of fire from Republicans at the CNN debate last night,” before raising the first of two questions from the right with one that Carly Fiorina rhetorically asked of Clinton Wednesday night: “[W]hat would you say was your number one accomplishment as secretary of state?”
Clinton rambled about what she thought of the debate for 47 seconds until she finally provided a canned answer about her accomplishments that included a plug for her 2014 memoir Hard Choices and crediting herself with “negotiat[ing] a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas” and “the coalition that led to international sanctions against Iran.”
Blitzer then played a clip of Fiorina’s emotional response to the issue of Planned Parenthood from the debate and then played defense for the abortion provider in characterizing the videos as “very, very controversial” (instead of the disturbing content that are in the videos themselves):
Planned Parenthood says the video doesn't depict an aborted fetus. They say that was from a miscarriage, had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. This is an organization, though, you support. First of all have you seen those very, very controversial videos?
Not surprisingly, Clinton neglected to answer whether or not she’s seen the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and instead bashed the conservative push in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood as the federal government could run out of funding at the end of the month.
In a follow-up that led to the same result, Blitzer wondered if she’s “confident that Planned Parenthood, Madame Secretary, or any of its affiliated groups if you will haven't violated any federal laws?”
Turning next to the first of a scant two questions on her e-mail scandal, Blitzer touted concerns raised by Republican Governor Chris Christie (N.J.) about Clinton’s private server being hacked by foreign enemies. As Blitzer was asking the question, Clinton laughed hysterically and simply declined to provide an answer on that question.
Blitzer mustered only a short second question on her decision to use a private e-mail server concerning her long-delayed apology: “It took you a long time to say you're sorry about what happened, the mistakes you made in organizing that server to begin with. Why did it take so long?”
With the time remaining, Blitzer inquired with Clinton about the rise of Bernie Sanders in numerous polls, a possible run by Vice President Joe Biden, and multiple questions about whether she would support opponent Martin O’Malley’s lead in demanding the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hold additional primary debates (beyond those scheduled).
The relevant portions of the transcript from CNN’s The Situation Room on September 17 can be found below.
CNN’s The Situation Room
September 17, 2015
5:06 p.m. Eastern
WOLF BLITZER: If – you certainly did take a lot of fire from the Republicans at the CNN debate last night. I assume you watched it, especially from the lone female candidate up on the stage, Carly Fiorina. She said if you want to stump a Democrat she said ask them about Hillary Clinton's accomplishments as secretary of state. If you were on that debate stage with her, what would you say was your number one accomplishment as secretary of state?
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, Wolf, I didn't get to see all of their debate, but I saw enough of it to know that this is just the usual back and forth political attacks, the kinds of things you say when you're on a debate stage and you really don't have much else to say. I didn't hear anything from any of them about how they're going to make college more affordable or get down student debt or get equal pay for equal work for women, what they're going to do to make sure that we deal with challenges of raising incomes for hard working people. So, I don't really pay a lot of attention to this kind of rhetoric that heats up the debate stage. They're all trying to vie for more attention from obviously the Republican party. I'm going to let them decide how best to do it, but if anybody's interested, you know, there's a long list about what I have done and I'm very proud of it. You can read my book Hard Choices, read about how I negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. You can read about how I put together the coalition that led to international sanctions against Iran. You can read about what I did when I was First Lady to get the children's health insurance program or as Senator working across the aisle on issues like getting better health care for our veterans. You know, this is just the silly season. I am looking forward to eventually debating on that stage whoever they finally nominate once they get around to doing that.
BLITZER: Alright. So listen to what Carly Fiorina also said, madame secretary, about some controversial videos opposing Planned Parenthood, an organization you support. Listen to this.
BLITZER: Alright. Planned Parenthood says that video doesn't – Madame Secretary, I want to explain –
CLINTON: – that’s right.
BLITZER: – Planned Parenthood says the video doesn't depict an aborted fetus. They say that was from a miscarriage, had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. This is an organization, though, you support. First of all have you seen those very, very controversial videos?
CLINTON: Well, Wolf, let's break down what's happening here because I think it's important. I know that there's a move on by some of the Republicans in the Congress to actually shut down the United States government over their demand that we no longer give federal funding to Planned Parenthood to perform the really necessary health services they do for millions of women. So, let's put aside for a moment here that there is no debate and there should be absolutely no argument that Planned Parenthood does cancer screenings, it helps provide family planning and contraceptive advice. It works to provide, you know, some of the most difficult kinds of counseling when it comes to giving an HIV test, for example. What this is about is the fact that some of the Planned Parenthood facilities perform abortions which is legal under the laws of the United States. I understand that the Republican Party and particularly the candidates we heard from last night wish that were not the case, wish that abortion were illegal and they could turn the clock back. So, I think we ought to be very clear that Planned Parenthood has served to provide health care, necessary health care, for millions of women and I think it deserves not only our support but the continuing funding from the federal government so that these women and girls who are seeking the kinds of services that are provided will be able to achieve that.
BLITZER: Alright. Have you – are you confident that Planned Parenthood, Madame Secretary, or any of its affiliated groups if you will haven't violated any federal laws?
CLINTON: Well, Wolf, let me tell you what I know and that is there is a willingness on the part of Planned Parenthood to answer questions. They have been doing so. Some people may not want to hear the answers, but they have certainly put those answers out there into the public arena and if the issue, the core issue that some on the stage last night or some in the Congress are trying to promote or trying to raise questions about, has to do with the kind of research that is done legally in the United States, then that is an issue that goes far beyond any Planned Parenthood example. So I think it's important to sort out there's a lot of emotion. There's a lot of accusations that are being hurled about. I think it's important to sort out and try to actually figure out what is going if it's the services they are trying to shut down, like providing family planning or breast cancer sceenings, that is just wrong and women deserve to be given support to get those services provided. If they want to shut down the legal provision of abortion services, then they've got a bigger problem because obviously they – Planned Parenthood does not use federal dollars to do that and if they are more focused on the research that is going on, then that's a set of issues that certainly is not only about Planned Parenthood. So I would hope that the Republicans and particularly the Republicans in the House led by Speaker Boehner would not put our country and our economy in peril pursuing some kind of emotionally, politically charged partisan attack on Planned Parenthood to shut our government down. I think that would be a very, very unfortunate decision.
BLITZER: Alright. Let's talk about another source of criticism you received last night. This one from the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He said at the debate you can't tell the American people the truth. Those are his words about your e-mail, the whole controversy says you should be prosecuted for having a server in your basement [CLINTON LAUGHS] he says with national security secrets running through it. He says Russians, Chinese, even 18-year-olds could have hacked into your server. You think that was possible that they hacked into your server?
BLITZER: It took you a long time to say you're sorry about what happened, the mistakes you made in organizing that server to begin with. Why did it take so long?