CHRIS MATTHEWS, NBC ANCHOR: We are joined right now by the junior senator from New York, Senator Hillary Clinton. And she’s, of course, the Democratic candidate—or a Democratic candidate for president.
Senator Clinton, let me ask you about the president tonight. Do you think he is sincere when he calls for bipartisan action on a number of these issues?
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think the jury is out, Chris. I’m not quite sure.
We have since years of experience that suggests that that is not their favored means of getting anything done. But I’m open to it. And I think all of the Democrats are. He mentioned a few issues, like energy independence and health care, where we are eager to work towards some kind of bipartisan result.
So, let’s see what happens. I mean, the proof is in the pudding. We will see whether his speech tonight is followed up by any specific actions and the kind of outreach that should be undertaken.
MATTHEWS: Back when you were working so hard on health care, back in the ‘90s, in the early ‘90s…
MATTHEWS: … and—and you really thought you could get a—some
kind of compromise at the end, I believe, and the word came from the ideologues on the right, kill this baby in its bassinet, do not let them get a compromise health care bill that they can get credit for.
Do you still feel the sting of that strategy on the other side?
CLINTON: You know, I really don’t.
I regret that we have lost all this time, in trying to deal with a problem that affects our economy, that undermines our productivity, and makes us less competitive than we would be otherwise. So, I think we have really missed the opportunity to take care of the problem that health care financing poses.
But, you know, I’m a realist. And I get up every today and try to figure out what we are going to get done today to move the ball forward. So, I’m ready to, you know, work with anybody. I’m not interested in scoring partisan or ideological points on some imaginary board in the sky. Let’s try to get something done.
I have too many people I represent right now, Chris, who are struggling because they don’t have health care. We have got more than 46 million Americans, nine million children. You know, let’s put down the ideological battleground and once again try to find some common ground.
KEITH OLBERMANN, NBC ANCHOR: Senator, when we spoke this morning, I asked you what might be said in this speech that would get you to stand up and cheer and applaud for the president. You mentioned health care. He discussed health care.
You suggested he should reach out to the Democrats and actually go for genuine bipartisanship. There were words to that effect. As you point out, how sincere they are will—will only be told by time. A real energy policy—there were hints at an energy policy.
But the last point that you made—or the first point you actually made was that he—a changing of the mind on troop escalation would have been the thing that would have easily brought you to your feet. We did not get that. Iraq did not come in until well over 3,000 words had been spoken in the speech.
In a—in a backwards kind of way, and in an unexpected kind of way, did the president not spend enough time talking about Iraq tonight?
CLINTON: Well, actually, Keith, I think he made his whole defense of Iraq, because he started by linking it to the war on terror, which all of us support. And I have been, you know, adamant that we have to be more effective and smarter in going after the bad guys who are after us.
And he certainly tried to once again summon the Congress and the country to see his version of reality.
I don’t think it’s going to sell. I think that a majority of Democrats
and a sizable number of Republicans are turning against this policy of escalation, not because we don’t want to fight the war on terror—in fact, we want to fight it smarter and better—but because it is only a slice of a strategy.
Where is the internationalization of this problem, the regional conference, the reaching-out to the neighbors? Where is the continual pressure on the Iraqi government to deal with the political and economic problems they face?
You know, when I returned from Iraq and Afghanistan a week ago, I said, look, I’m against this troop escalation. Let’s see if we can’t put some pressure on the Iraqi government to start doing the things all of us know need to be done, in order for there to be some kind of political resolution, since we know there is no military solution.
MATTHEWS: What do you think, Senator, of the fact that the president has decided to go down to Williamsburg in a week or so and actually join the House Democrats.
MATTHEWS: You are laughing.
OK, this is a personal question. Would you accept an invitation if the
Republicans invited you to their retreat?
CLINTON: Absolutely, in a New York minute, Chris. I think it’s a great invitation. I’m glad the president accepted.
You know, some of these things may be ritualistic. You know that. You have been in this town a lot longer than I have. But I think it also does at least show respect for the process. We need to get back to working with each other and, you know, pursuing some common means toward getting results for our constituents and our country.
So, I’m glad that the president was invited. And I’m delighted that he is going.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you can retail those Republicans into voting for you?
CLINTON: Well, I got some of them in New York. I would like to figure
out if I could get a few more.
MATTHEWS: I knew you would—hey, by the way, wasn’t that great about Wesley Autrey tonight? Wasn’t he great?
CLINTON: I loved it. We were really thrilled that he was there. And what a terrific guy he is. I’m—I’m very proud of him, as a New Yorker.
MATTHEWS: God, America is proud of the guy. Humanity is proud of the guy.
CLINTON: That’s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Boy, it’s so great to—great to have you on, Senator. And
thank you very much, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.
CLINTON: Thank you.