DERRY, New Hampshire – Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton struggled Wednesday night to answer a question about why she took more than $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in one year.
“Well, I don’t know. That’s what they offered,” she said when asked about the fees by CNN host Anderson Cooper in a forum televised by the network with less than a week away from the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary. Clinton had a lucrative turn on the paid speaking circuit after she stepped down as secretary of state, which rival Bernie Sanders has used as fodder against her.
“I wasn’t committed to running. I didn’t know whether I would or not,” she added when asked why she took the money knowing it would look bad if she ran. She said she did not regret taking the money, noting that other former secretaries of states have given paid speeches and saying that no one can influence her.
Meanwhile, insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders said religion played a key role in his decision to run for president, something he has not previously admitted. “I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings,” he said during a Democratic candidate forum televised on CNN.
Sanders added that religion is a “guiding principle in my life, absolutely it is. Everybody practices religion in a different way.” The Vermont senator was raised Jewish, but has said he does not practice the religion. “I am not actively involved with organized religion,” he told the Washington Post.
Clinton also spoke unusually candidly on the issue of faith, and end of life care. “This is hard for me,” she said. “You know, I never thought I’d be standing on a stage here asking for people to vote for me of president. I always wanted to be of service. I met my husband who was such a natural… I never thought I would do this.”