Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton showed off a lighter side in her first talk show interview since she announced her candidacy, appearing alongside a mini presidential hopeful clad in a matching blue pantsuit for a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Five-year-old “presidential expert” Macey Hensley grilled the former secretary of state on trivia about her life and U.S. history, giving Clinton a jumpstart for her campaign and a crucial chance to soften her image and appeal to female voters. The interview, taped in New York, is set to air Thursday morning.
More media appearances are on the way as the Clinton campaign works to reverse course on the controversy over the private email server set up during her tenure as secretary of state. Asked from the outset to address the issue, Clinton admitted that she should have used two separate email accounts, but never explicitly apologized for using her private server.
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“I made a mistake, I’m sorry for all of the confusion that has ensued, I take responsibility for that,” Clinton said. “I am now trying to be as transparent not only as a I can, but as anyone ever has been.”
Clinton and DeGeneres joked about the controversy earlier in the day, drawing on the more light-hearted email threads unearthed once thousands of Clinton’s messages were released to the public.
Clinton’s appearance marks a clear shift in her campaign’s strategy, which had previously kept an air-tight lid on media access and left any moments of candor or spontaneity to a minimum. Between commercial breaks, Clinton learned dance moves from the show’s in-house DJ and joked around with comedian Amy Schumer, who made a cameo while wearing a full ice skating costume. Clinton is slated to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” next week – airing just one night before Republican presidential candidates take the stage for their second primary debate of the season.
Appearing before a crowd of mostly young women packed into New York’s Rockefeller Plaza Tuesday evening, Clinton opened up with details of her personal life and the challenges that she overcame as a woman. She recalled a time in the mid ’70s when she was rejected for a credit card application and was told instead to use her husband’s account. ”This was not like ancient history,” she said. “And I was making more money than he was!”
Clinton sought to strike a positive and uplifting tone, focusing her message on women’s rights while contrasting herself from the mud-slinging seen from her Republican presidential counterparts.
“I find it sort of sad. I find that the last debate, it just showed – to me anyway – they were out of touch, out of date and a lot of the things that they said were really unnecessary in the way they talked about people,” she said. “I hoping it will sort of settle down to become a more serious discussion about what they’re actually looking for the country.”
DeGeneres was effusive with her praise of Clinton, saying that of all the candidates, the former secretary of state had the strongest record on equal rights.
“I personally believe that women are held to a different standard than men. We are held to a different standard for our weight, for our age, for our looks, for everything,” DeGeneres said. “It is not fair. You are the smartest, most qualified person for this job.”
In a taped skit that aired at the top of the show, DeGeneres imagines an alternate reality where she landed a spot on stage the Republican presidential debate thinking it was a game show taping for celebrity “Family Feud.” DeGeneres then serenades Jeb Bush with a banjo, steals wads of cash from Donald Trump’s wallet to “make it rain” and tries to make the men onstage come to terms with marriage equality in all 50 states.
“I am for it! Anyone else?” DeGeneres, photoshopped into the FOX News debate, asks the GOP candidates. “The times are a changing – I mean, have you seen my wife?”