Hillary Clinton told CNN in her first national interview as a 2016 presidential candidate that she is “very disappointed” in Donald Trump for his comments about immigrants and in the Republican Party for not condemning his remarks more quickly.
She quickly pivoted to skewering the entire GOP field for their immigration stance, saying they are on the same “spectrum of hostility.”
Clinton then took direct aim at GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush.
“He doesn’t believe in a path to citizenship. If he did at one time, he no longer does,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
The full interview will air Tuesday at 5 p.m. on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and 8 p.m. on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Clinton spent Tuesday scrapping for votes in the heart of Bernie Sanders country.
The Democratic 2016 front runner visited this heavily liberal and college-educated town — just the type of place where a challenge like Sanders is mounting from the left could take hold.
The home of the University of Iowa, Iowa City and nearby Cedar Rapid are population bases in the eastern portion of the state, which helped President Barack Obama build a lead during the 2008 Democratic primaries that Clinton couldn’t overcome with her support from the more conservative western portion of the state.
Clinton held her first event at the public event at the Iowa City Public Library in front of a crowd of at least 350 — with more waiting outside. Then she’ll head to Ottuma for a house party with supporters who she hopes will play a key role organizing her efforts to win the state’s caucuses early next year.
Clinton’s interview is likely to be the first of several she gives to national reporters, after only talking one-on-one with local news outlets in her campaign’s early weeks.
It signals a recognition on the campaign’s part that Clinton has a real challenge on her hands from Sanders, who drew another 7,500 supporters to an event in Maine on Monday night.
“We are worried about him, sure. He will be a serious force for the campaign, and I don’t think that will diminish,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Monday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
It’s not just the massive crowds for the Vermont independent — who calls himself a socialist but caucuses with the Democrats — though he did attract 2,500 to Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday.
It’s poll numbers out of early voting states: A CNN/ORC poll conducted June 18-24 found that Clinton’s lead in New Hampshire had dwindled to eight percentage points, with 43% of the Granite State’s Democrats backing her while 35% support Sanders.
Clinton’s lead in Iowa is 52% to Sanders’ 33%, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.
One nagging challenge for Clinton is that polls show voters generally don’t consider her honest and trustworthy — potentially the result of ongoing controversies about her family foundation’s acceptance of foreign contributions and her use of a personal email account on a private server during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Clinton laced her stump speech in Iowa City with references to her time as secretary of state — telling the story of sneaking into a Copenhagen climate meeting with President Barack Obama — in an effort to recast her time as America’s top diplomat as Republicans scrutinize her use of a private email address while in office and her family foundation’s acceptance of foreign contributions.
She also delivered a veiled shot at Sanders — not by name — on gun control by attacking the National Rifle Association, a nod at liberal criticism of his vote against allowing victims of gun violence to sue those guns’ manufacturers.
“Let’s not be afraid of the gun lobby, which does not even represent the majority of gun owners in America,” Clinton said.
She also touted the economic progress made under both her husband, President Bill Clinton, and Obama. And she said the 2016 election, even after the Supreme Court ruling upholding key elements of Obama’s signature health law, is another life-or-death moment for health reform.
“That’s another reason we have to succeed President Obama with a Democrat,” Clinton said.