Clinton Discusses Va. Primary
Here is a transcript of the news conference held Wednesday in Arlington by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in which she discussed the Virginia primary:
CLINTON: We had a great night last night, with victories across the country, and ending up, once again, with, you know, a total of more votes and more delegates, and lots of energy from voters who decided that they really needed a president on day one to be able to manage the economy and provide the leadership that is going to be required to deal with the problems facing our country.
So I'm very grateful to everyone who participated. We had record-breaking turnouts. I was, obviously, very pleased at the results in many of the states, particularly the large states that voted for me. And I was also very pleased at some of the results in these states.
I won the youth vote in both Massachusetts and California. We, obviously, have geared up and really done a lot more in recent months to reach out to young people, to let them know that I'm not just worried about the next election; I'm worried about the next generation.
We also won 110 out of 115 counties in Missouri, in what was basically a tie at the end of the night, but sweeping across rural Missouri, which is considered usually pretty red territory for people in the Democratic Party, with a great vindication of my belief that I'm running a campaign that appeals broadly, that brings in people from all different walks of life and background, and once again, we proved that.
So it was a terrific -- a terrific victory for everybody working on the ground, all of our volunteers and our staff, and I just went down and thanked the staff here at the campaign headquarters who have literally been working around the clock.
So now we're getting geared up. It's a -- you know, a fast move forward for the states that are around the corner, starting on Saturday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, and then on to Wisconsin and then on to Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island. So we are very pleased about where the campaign is and how we're being able to make our case to the voters.
So I'd be happy to answer your questions.
QUESTION: Senator, did you loan your campaign $5 million? And, if so, where did you get the money?
CLINTON: I did. I loaned the campaign $5 million from my money. That's where I got the money.
I loaned it because I believe very strongly in this campaign. We had a great month fund-raising in January, broke all records. But my opponent was able to raise more money. And we intended to be competitive, and we were. And I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment.
QUESTION: Howard Dean was talking about some sort of accommodation between you and Senator Obama if (OFF-MIKE). Have you talked about that? Considered it? Do you agree with the idea?
CLINTON: Well, I don't know anything about it. I am, you know, on the path to win the nomination. That's what I intend to do, that's what this is about. And I think the results last night showed very clearly that, you know, we're ahead.
We intend to be competitive in states that are going to be challenging, as well as ones that look like that they will be very favorable toward me. But we're in this, as I said in the very beginning, to win it.
QUESTION: Senator, (OFF-MIKE) regional primaries (OFF-MIKE) next Tuesday. Had you expected that this would have been wrapped up by now? And, because it's not, how are you approaching Tuesday and it's importance in this...
CLINTON: Well, obviously, when you're in a contest, you want to have a result sooner instead of later. But I think that this is fairly predictable, that we are down now to two candidates.
CLINTON: Both of us have run very vigorous campaigns. We've been successful. Every state's important. Some of us go into different states with maybe a plus or minus, depend upon, you know, the makeup of the state and the location of the state.
But we're going to compete everywhere. I mean, that's what we intend to do. And I'm excited about competing in -- you call it the Potomac, some call it the Chesapeake, but, you know, these two states and the District of Columbia, which I think should be a state. So let's call it two and a half states or however. I'll certainly try as president to remedy the injustice of the people of the District of Columbia not being represented in our government.
So I think that we're, you know, we're taking stock, we're working hard. We've got good organizations in both Virginia and Maryland, as well as the District. And, you know, it's going to be a mad dash until Tuesday.
There's not a lot of time to catch your breath, so, you know, we are full speed ahead. I will imagine, once I look at my schedule, as we try to figure out how to be in 20 places at once, I imagine that you'll see me in both Virginia and Maryland.
QUESTION: But they're not as important as -- they're not as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas; I think you would agree.
CLINTON: Well, every state's important. But clearly the number of delegates to be harvested from big states like New York and Massachusetts and New Jersey and California, Texas and Ohio, you know, make them particularly attractive because there's a lot of return on your investment.
But every state is important, and Virginia and Maryland are very important states. You know, those are two states, in the one case, with Maryland, where you have a very strong Democratic presence, you've got a Democratic governor, you've got two Democratic senators. And look at the changes that have happened in Virginia in a relatively short period of time, a Democratic government, a Democratic senator.
So I think we're going to, you know, we're going to really work hard to do the very best we can. I think that, you know, I'll be in a better position (OFF-MIKE) after I actually get out there and talk to people.
CLINTON: I was thrilled, last week or so, to win the Washington & Lee primary, which I'm told, is quite historic. Apparently, they've done it for 100 years and they've only been wrong once in picking who will be the nominee of the party out of power. And I apparently won a majority of the votes in that.
So I'm looking forward to getting out and campaigning in Virginia and Maryland.
QUESTION: If I could ask you a question about (OFF-MIKE). During one of the less-than-friendly debates, Senator Obama kindly brought up the fact that you had worked on the Wal-Mart board.
Your campaign, kind of, glosses over the corporate legal career that you had. And I don't remember you talking about that experience much on the campaign trail.
Are you trying to hide the fact that you were an excellent corporate attorney? And if so, why?
CLINTON: No, I'm not. And thanks for the compliment.
You know, I often say that the 35 years of experience includes experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sector. And I think it's a varied base of experience that really sets me up to understand the full variety of problems that face our country.
So I'm very -- you know, I'm very pleased to talk with anybody about the different kinds of experiences that I had that make up who I am. We each bring our experiences and our qualifications to this race, and we would to the White House.
And, you know, I believe that I have the experience we need, from the variety of kinds of participations that I've had, over my life, that give me a real understanding in how to make the changes that the country wants.
And so I'm going to put all of what I've done in my life to work.
QUESTION: Yesterday there was a gender gap, on the plus side for you, with your majority of support among women. But the down side (ph) was Senator Obama getting the majority of men voters.
Is that something of concern, on the negative side?
And is it something that could happen to you in the general election?
CLINTON: No. But, you know, Democrats are used to a gender gap. And obviously, I'm going to be working very hard to get the votes of everyone.
And I think the broad base of support that I demonstrated yesterday, in states that Democrats have to win -- you know, some of the states that were up yesterday are states that will be very hard for a Democrat to win, and everybody knows that.
CLINTON: But the states that we have to win are states that I have been doing very will in. And I think that as we actually draw the contrast with the Republicans, we'll be drawing votes from everyone.
CLINTON: Well, you know, caucuses, historically, draw the most activist members of a party. And that's fine. But they aren't the most Democratic way of letting people express their preferences. Primaries are far more democratic -- small D democratic.
And, you know, it's just been my experience that -- you know, my husband hardly won a -- I don't think he won a caucus. I think he lost to Jerry Brown and others all the way through the process.
I am more interested in what happens when a large number of people get to vote. They get to vote all day. They don't have to show up for a few hours, which means they can't, if they're working.
I prefer primaries. I'll be just really honest with you. I think that the primary gives people a much better idea of what would happen in the general election.
And very often, caucuses have driven candidates to one side or the other of the political spectrum. So, I'm very pleased at the results from yesterday for a lot of reasons.
CLINTON: Well, you'll see that when the report comes out.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) on the phone this morning that Senator Obama has the advantage in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Can you tell us what you think those advantages are and what (OFF-MIKE)?
CLINTON: Well, I'm sure Mark fully briefed you on that.
There are some built in advantages. We each have had advantages in certain of the contests we've had this far. I'm well aware of that. I accept that. But I'm going to work hard to get as many votes as I can.
QUESTION: What are your advantages in Virginia?
CLINTON: I think that I have a very strong base of support among a lot of the electorate who understand how the federal government works, who are involved with, or were, with the military, who look at the record that I have compiled in bringing proven change to people and the work that I've done on behalf of the military and military families.
I think that I have really deep support in a lot of different constituencies in Virginia.
But as I say, I want to get out there and touch and feel. You know, that always makes me understand much better what's going on.
You know, I've told a few of you this, some of whom are in our travelling press corps -- you know, I just don't pay attention to polls. I don't pay attention to exit polls.
What I'm interested in is what's happening when I'm actually interacting with people, what people are thinking about, what they're talking to me about, and I haven't had that opportunity yet in Virginia, so I'm looking forward to it.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) outside of Northern Virginia?
CLINTON: We haven't set a schedule. I have no idea, you know.
CLINTON: I really don't know. It's all moving pretty fast, but I intend to be at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Virginia on Saturday night, and that's the one thing I know that I'll be attending.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) do you intend to -- are you prepared to loan your campaign any more money?
CLINTON: You know, I'm just going to leave it -- my campaign has put out a statement. You can see what we've done.
CLINTON: My biggest what?
CLINTON: Winning votes, you know. I think this is a contest. This is a vigorous two-person contest now.
And I think it's only just become a two-person contest in the last, what, 10 days or so. Therefore I am hoping we're going to have more debates, we're going to be able to showcase our records, our qualifications, the differences, the contrast between us, because voters are really tuning in now. You know, of you look at the turnout, people are interested. I think the last debate had a huge viewership as those things are counted.
So I, you know, I think my campaign has accepted every offer that has come our way because, you know, when it moves so quickly, when the calendar is so compressed, you have to take opportunities to speak to the broadest number of voters, and I think having these debates, like we did in California, is a great way to communicate with voters.
CLINTON: Well, I am very grateful for the extraordinary support I've been receiving from Hispanic voters. But of course that's because I have a 35-year relationship with Hispanic Americans.
You know, my first job in politics was registering voters in south Texas. I went down in 1972 for the Democratic National Committee and went door to door, and I made friends of a lifetime who were politically active, who were union activists, who were civic activists. Raul Yzaguirre, one of the founders of La Raza, is supporting me because, you know, we were registering voters together 35 years ago.
So my relationships in the Hispanic community are very broad and very deep, and people know me, and they know what I've done to really try to solve the problems and produce results for Hispanic Americans, in health care, in education, in the economy.
CLINTON: And they know my strong stand for comprehensive immigration reform. So I am thrilled to have the depth of support, and I am looking forward to going back to Texas, you know, going back to places that I was, all those years ago, and have been, in years since.
I have a lot of friends in Texas, across the state. I think it's going to be a lot of fun campaigning there, lots of Mexican food and, you know, good times, so...
QUESTION: But given last night's results...
CLINTON: Now, didn't you have a question?
QUESTION: I did have a question.
CLINTON: Yes, let me -- OK, yes?
QUESTION: Senator, you mentioned that you feel you have strong support among the military and government workers in Virginia. But there's a good portion of the Democratic establishment, Virginia's governor among them, who have endorsed your opponent.
Is there any concern that you may be lacking something, in organization in Virginia, at the grassroots level, to get that vote out?
CLINTON: Well, as I recall, the governor and both senators in Massachusetts endorsed my opponent. I think we'll do fine.
QUESTION: Senator, your campaign has (OFF-MIKE) the establishment candidate. (OFF-MIKE)
CLINTON: Well, he sure had a lot of establishment support yesterday. And I feel very good about the results.
I think, look, it's wonderful to have endorsers and supporters. But, at the end of the day, this is a decision between two real people. It's our names that are going to be on the ballot, nobody else's. And people are going to have to look at us and decide who they believe would be the best president.
You know, I think that this is a serious election. And certainly, voters are taking it certainly because they know there is so much at stake.
So, if voters start to think about who would be the president, to be commander in chief on day one, to turn the economy around, and who would be the best Democratic nominee to win in November, I am very comfortable with the answers to those questions.
So, for me, this is about actually drawing the contrasts between the two of us. And we're proud to have all kinds of folks supporting us. But at the end of the day, voters in Virginia or Washington or Maryland are going to have two names on the ballot. And if the question is, who would be the best president, I feel very good about the outcome there.
Thank you all very much.
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