Hillary Clinton, locked in a dead heat with Bernie Sanders three days before the Iowa caucuses, betrayed little sign of nerves in an interview with NBC News Friday, saying she relished the scrutiny that a close fight will bring her rival.
Clinton also accused Sanders of “trying to go negative” with ads accusing Wall Street of trying to buy off politicians — spots that didn’t name Clinton, but aired after she left Iowa Wednesday to raise money at a Philadelphia investment firm.
Clinton dismissed the move as an attempt to divert attention from his own campaign promises — including a “Medicare-for-all” health plan — which are attracting more criticism as he rises in the polls.
“That is a time-worn politician’s tactic,” Clinton told Nightly News anchor Lester Holt.
Clinton suggested that Sanders’ platform was based on unrealistic goals, and said she offered the opposite: “the more clear agenda that can actually produce results for people who can’t wait.”
The sharpened rhetoric reflects an increasingly competitive race in the final stretch in Iowa. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll of likely Democratic primary voters shows Clinton leading Sanders 48 percent to 45 percent, a statistical dead heat.
In New Hampshire, home of the campaign’s second primary, Sanders is leading 57 percent to 38 percent.
Clinton said she wasn’t worried about losing Iowa and New Hampshire. “I’m in it for the long haul,” she said.
Clinton expressed no regrets about the fundraising trip, and denied she played into Sanders’ hand.
“The facts are that I’m the one that the hedge fund guys and the billionaires are running ads against,” Clinton said.
“These guys have reputations of being good investors. Their investments are to try to prevent me from being the Democratic nominee because they know I have the toughest, most effective, comprehensive plan to rein in Wall Street,” she said.
Clinton also said she was not worried about an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. She reiterated that she did not keep classified emails on the server.
“I just don’t see it as anything that will in any way cause any voter to, a voter with an open mind, to have any concerns,” Clinton said.
The State Department on Friday said that more than 20 emails would not be released because they have been upgraded to “top secret.”
The emails were not marked classified when they were sent, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
Clinton’s campaign spokesman said Clinton strongly objects to the decision and wants the emails released. Spokesman Brian Fallon called the change in status “overclassification run amok.”