NBC's Ron Allen to Hillary Clinton: Is GOP 'Inciting Violence?'

October 13th, 2008 11:44 AM

Interviewing Hillary Clinton on Monday's "Today" show, NBC's Ron Allen repeatedly asked the New York Senator about Barack Obama's ability to defend himself against GOP attacks, as he questioned: "Do you think they've crossed the line?" and claimed, "there's concerns about actually inciting violence."

For her part Clinton said she thought McCain/Palin had gone negative but had calmed down, however that didn't satisfy Allen as he proceeded to worry "If this gets more personal and, and more aggressive can he withstand," the "Republican assault?"

Also, Allen, mindful of the fact that, Clinton supporters "can make a big difference in a close race," pressed the former First Lady if her husband was "fully on board?"

The following interview occurred on the October 13, edition of the "Today" show:

MATT LAUER: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton certainly fought each other tooth and nail in the Democratic primary season, some feelings, of course, were bruised, but now, the Clintons appear to have buried the hatchet, and they're on the campaign trail stumping for Obama together, for the first time. NBC's Ron Allen caught up with the New York senator in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Ron, good morning to you.

RON ALLEN: Good morning, Matt. Hillary Clinton admits it's been difficult convincing some of her strongest supporters, white, working-class, and middle-class voters, to now back Barack Obama. Here in Scranton, some longtime Clinton friends have even started an organization called, "Democrats for John McCain." We began the interview by asking whether Obama can win this conservative corner of Pennsylvania, the key to this critical state.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I'm sure trying to help him win it. I think that he's picking up support. The economic crisis that we are unfortunately mired in right now has sent a shock wave across the country. We're making the case that, you know, you cannot reward the Republicans. You voted for them before for guns and on, you know, abortion, and you know, that's fine, but we're, we're in trouble now.

ALLEN: What about the tone of the campaign? Joe Biden said it's ugly. In the primary, you also brought up Obama's association with Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright. Where's the line, and have the Republicans crossed it?

CLINTON: I think the McCain/Palin campaign has gotten quite negative in the last few days. It doesn't do anybody a service.

ALLEN: Do you think they've crossed the line?

CLINTON: Well, you know, from-

ALLEN: Some of this, there's concerns about actually inciting violence.

CLINTON: Yeah, well, I think John McCain came out the other day and basically said, you know, "Let's, let's calm down, let's stop this, and I appreciate him doing that, and that, that should be the tone of the campaign going forward.

ALLEN: During the primaries, you also questioned whether Barack Obama could withstand the Republican assault. If this gets more personal and, and more aggressive can he withstand that?

CLINTON: Oh I have no doubt he can. I mean he's run a very disciplined-

ALLEN: You seem to have doubts about that before though.

CLINTON: Well, I think that the circumstances have changed. I mean for one thing, people don't have the luxury of paying attention to that. Absent this economic crisis, you know, who knows? But the reality is, we're in this economic crisis, and every time President Bush gets on TV, John McCain's numbers drop.

ALLEN: Your husband, Bill Clinton, President Clinton, we've only seen him with Obama once, I think September 11th. Is he really fully on board?

CLINTON: 100 percent and he's doing whatever the Obama campaign asks him to do. If they want to campaign together, I'm sure that Barack will ask him, but right now he is traveling, he is going to Virginia and Florida and out west. He's doing everything he's asked to do.

ALLEN: Must be tough for him and tough for you, for that matter.

CLINTON: Well, you know, it isn't anymore. I mean obviously when you run a hard-fought campaign, there is a lot of emotion attached to it. You believe you'd be the best president, you give it all you've got, but you know, that wasn't meant to be.

ALLEN: What does Barack Obama have to do to close the deal?

CLINTON: I think he's closing it. I think the way he's conducted himself the last few weeks, during this economic crisis, has gotten a lot of people in his camp who might not have been there otherwise. I hear it all the time. People say well, "I don't any have no choice now," or you know, "I'm convinced." And he just has to keep doing that.

ALLEN: Listening to Clinton, it sounds as though losing still hurts a bit, but she's back out on the trail here in Pennsylvania and off to more battleground states later in the week. She's aware that her supporters can make a big difference in a close race.