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Clinton Responds To Sanders Criticism That Her Experience Isn't Enough


She has long been considered the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. That's meant months of attacks from Republican presidential candidates on her right. But with the Iowa caucuses approaching, she's now really feeling the heat from the left. Sen. Bernie Sanders is closing the gap, and he recently made a surprising comparison between Clinton and a prominent member of the GOP. Our colleague, All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro, caught up with Secretary Clinton during a stop in San Antonio yesterday and put some of those criticisms from both sides to the candidate.


ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: On foreign policy, President Obama's approval ratings are in the 30s. You were the face of Obama foreign policy for four years. Don't those numbers suggest that people, in fact, want a change from the foreign policies that you represent?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I don't agree with that. I think that people are rightly concerned about ISIS. I'm the only candidate on either side in this race who has put forth a comprehensive plan about what we need to do to deprive them of territory on the ground through air support of fighters, not Americans but Arab and Kurdish fighters, what we need to do to go after their foreign funding, foreign fighter flow, take them on online and how we keep America safe. And first and foremost, it's not by demonizing Muslims and particularly American Muslims. So we need to make it clear. These are complicated problems. We need a very steady hand. We need to have people who understand the complexity of the problems because we have to make some hard choices going forward.

SHAPIRO: Sen. Sanders suggested yesterday that your experience is not enough and that there's a difference between experience and judgment. Part of what he said was, Dick Cheney had a lot of experience, George W. Bush's vice president, of course. A whole lot of people have experience but do not necessarily have the right judgment. How do you feel about being compared to Dick Cheney?

CLINTON: (Laughter) Well, since I spent eight years in the Senate fighting against a lot of what he represented and four years as secretary of state cleaning up the mess that he left, I think it's, you know, fairly far out there. But it is fair to say, OK, let's compare experience. And certainly, President Obama, when he was elected, immediately turned to me. He trusted my experience and my judgment to be his secretary of state because we inherited so many problems from the kind of attitude and actions that were manifest in the Bush-Cheney administration, and I really did have to get around the world reassuring people that the United States would conduct ourselves in accordance with our values. Yes, we would pursue our interests, but we wanted to do so in concert with others. That's why when I negotiated the sanctions against Iran, I had to get countries as difficult as Russia and China on board. And then I had to go convince countries that felt like, you know, that's a long way away. We want to keep buying their oil and their gas, why that was not in their interest, in order to advance global security. So I have a very clear idea of what we need to do, and I know it goes beyond sloganeering and political one-liners.

MONTAGNE: That's Hillary Clinton speaking in San Antonio with Ari Shapiro of All Things Considered. You can catch more of that conversation on our website, npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.

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