Opponents Pounce on Clinton's Statements on Immigration
After withstanding a series of pointed questions from her rivals in the debate's first hour, Clinton appeared to commit an unforced error when answering a question on whether she supported Gov. Eliot Spitzer's (D-N.Y.) plan to offer drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.
Tim Russert asked Clinton why she had told a New Hampshire newspaper that the plan "makes a lot of sense."
Clinton replied that Spitzer is "trying to fill the vacuum left by the failure this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform." After the interlude of a Dodd answer on the same subject Clinton added, "I just want to add, I did not say it should be done, but I certainly understand why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it."
Later pressed by co-moderator Tim Russert a perturbed Clinton said that Russert was asking her a "gotcha" question.
"What is the governor supposed to do?" Clinton asked. "We have failed, George Bush has failed. Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation of trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York, we want to know who is in New York, we want people to come out of the shadows. He's making an honest effort to do it. WE should have passed immigration reform."
Edwards and Obama immediately pounced. Edwards said "Sen. Clinton just said two different things in two minutes" and accused Clinton of "double-talk." Obama said, "I don't know if she is for it or against it."
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