EXETER, New Hampshire – Hillary Clinton said Monday that Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is as dangerous for women as Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul who has been mired in controversy after suggesting that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she asked Trump tough questions during last week’s GOP debate.
Speaking with reporters after a town hall here to promote her college affordability plan, Clinton said that while Trump’s words are flashier and more outlandish than those of his Republican rivals, the entire GOP field is bad for women.
She singled out Rubio, who during the GOP debate Thursday said that he never supported an abortion ban with an exception for rape or incest. "What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” Rubio said. “In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.”
Clinton said that while Kelly is powerful enough to defend herself, other women who would be affected by GOP policies are not. “I just want to remind us that what [Republicans] say about women – not one woman who is perfectly capable, incredibly impressive and perfectly able to take care of herself -- but all these women that I have fought for, worked for, advocated for, who may not have the opportunity to defend themselves, who may lose the right to exercise a personal choice if certain of the Republicans were to be successful -- I don’t want that forgotten,” Clinton said.
NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell challenged Clinton’s talking point, noting that she and Rubio have a genuine policy difference, while Trump’s comments have been roundly condemned as offensive. But Clinton rejected any attempt to differentiate between Trump and the rest of the GOP field.
“Yes, I know [Trump] makes great TV. I think the guy went way overboard – offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective. But what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage,” Clinton said.
Clinton’s campaign invited reporters to watch the GOP debate from their Brooklyn campaign headquarters and singled out Rubio’s comments as the ones most likely to end up in a 2016 general election ad. As her campaign sees it, Trump is only valuable politically as a cudgel to attack more viable Republican candidates like Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
In New Hampshire, Clinton fielded questions on Trump, a potential Democratic challenge from Vice President Joe Biden and the current Democratic candidates’ calls for more primary debates.
During last week’s GOP debate, Trump said he essentially coerced Clinton to attend his third wedding in 2005 because he had donated money to her political campaigns.
Asked why she went to his wedding, Clinton said she happened to be in Florida anyway and thought it would be fun. “I didn’t know him that well,” she said. “I thought it would be fun to go to his wedding because it’s always entertaining. Now that he’s running for president, it’s a little more troubling.”
As for Trump's comment that his donations led to her attendance, Clinton said he was just engaging in “entertainment.”
“I think he’s having the time of his life,” Clinton said of Trump’s White House bid.
Meanwhile, Biden is still considering a presidential bid against Clinton, seeing her falling poll numbers as an opportunity.
Clinton, who called Biden a friend, said she last spoke to the vice president at his son Beau’s funeral. “I think we should all let the vice president be with his family and make whatever decision he believes is right for him. And I will respect that decision,” she said.
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Clinton also addressed the Democratic presidential debate process. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, both challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, have both insisted the Democratic National Committee hold more than the six debates currently scheduled.
O’Malley said on MSNBC Monday that the current plan is “outrageous” and “undemocratic,” adding that the Democratic Party should feel “shame” if it doesn’t allow for more debates.
Clinton ducked a question on whether New Hampshire should get more debates, saying merely that she would just show up when asked and would not question the DNC. As is her practice, Clinton avoided saying the names of her primary rivals and moved straight on to the general election.
“I’m looking forward to debating first, with my friends and colleagues on the Democratic side. And then, finally, having a chance to debate the Republicans, whatever their nominee has to say,” she said.