ROCK HILL, South Carolina – Hillary Clinton spoke passionately about criminal justice reform at the First in the South Democratic Presidential Forum moderated by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Friday night, even as she defended the death penalty in some instances.
The former secretary of state recently met with the mothers of black people killed by police and gun violence, and spoke movingly of the stories they told her. “I mean, why? It makes no sense why that happened,” Clinton said of the shooting of Walter Scott, who was shot and killed as he was running away from police in North Charleston.
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At the same time, she defended being the only Democratic presidential candidate to support the death penalty. While she said she wants to dramatically restrict its use, she said it would appropriate in some extreme cases, like terrorism like the Boston Marathon bombing or the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
Clinton said gun violence in general is a problem, but that it’s especially distributing when it comes from someone in authority, like police officers, who should be held to a higher standard.
Pressed by Maddow on her past ties to Wall Street, Clinton insisted she would not be influenced and called the revolving door between government and corporations “an American problem.”
“Anybody who thinks they can influence what I am going to do doesn’t know me very well,” she said, calling for legislation that would prevent people from immediately joining some companies after leaving the government.
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She also defended against the notion that she would be a more hawkish president than Obama, saying she would pursue diplomacy while also not ruling out using military force.
In the lightning round, Clinton said she would learn Spanish if she had to learn any language – because more people speak it. And she called herself an “intro-extrovert” who likes to be around people but also needs alone time. Meanwhile, she admittedly dodged a question on which Republican presidential candidate she would pick as her running mate. “I could pick a Republican, but none of them,” she said.