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Will Clinton's Poor Showing In Michigan Bleed Into Illinois' Primary?


Even her detractors acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is very smart and very tough. What many Americans disagree over is whether she can be trusted. Clinton was asked about that on the debate stage last night in Miami. She's been asked this before, but her answer last night was somewhat different.


HILLARY CLINTON: I am not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed, like my husband or President Obama. So I have a view that I just have to do the best I can, get the results I can, make a difference in people's lives and hope that people see that I'm fighting for them and that I can improve conditions economically and other ways that will benefit them and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MODERATOR: Thank you, thank you.

GREENE: That was Hillary Clinton there. That audio came from CNN which simulcast the debate hosted by Univision. Now we're going to talk now with a Hillary Clinton supporter. It's U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos. She is a Democrat from Illinois, which is one of the big primary states that will vote next Tuesday. Congresswoman, good morning.

CHERI BUSTOS: Good morning, David.

GREENE: What did you make of that moment last night?

BUSTOS: Well, I think it was a moment of humility for Hillary Clinton. And I think the American public wants to see that. You know, she's been in the public eye for a long, long time as first lady of Arkansas, as Secretary of State, U.S. Senator now running for president. And, you know, and she is going to make mistakes over time, just like all of us do. I was with her husband, President Clinton, just the last couple days here. He came to Illinois. And, boy, she is right about that, though. He is a natural politician. There's no doubt about it.

GREENE: Do you think she should find more moments of humility if you think it's a way for her to connect better with voters?

BUSTOS: Well, you know, I don't want to be overly prescriptive on what Hillary Clinton should do or shouldn't do. I just know that I have followed her career and now I serve in Congress and know what she stands for. I happen to like the fact that she's a mother and a grandmother. And I could tell you firsthand that women govern differently. We're more natural consensus-builders. We don't have a problem working across the aisle if that's what it's going to take to get results. And I think over time - and we have quite a bit of time still before the conventions and the ultimate nominee is known. And I think that we're going to see more of this in Hillary Clinton. And I think people are going to come to realize that her policies, they have substance. They are based in reality and they don't have a price tag attached to them that the American public will not put up with.

GREENE: You know, just listening to that moment last night, I wondered if it might remind people of the 2008 campaign and a moment when Hillary Clinton appeared to choke up just before surprising people by winning the state of New Hampshire. A woman in the audience about her age asked her how she does it. And this is what Hillary Clinton said.


CLINTON: You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening. And we have to reverse it.

GREENE: Now, the woman who asked her that question said that she just wanted to know Hillary Clinton as a woman. You're saying women govern differently. Say more about this if you can. I'm so curious because you're a woman in politics yourself.

BUSTOS: Well, we - I'm friends with so many Republicans - I mean, literally where I could call them friends. Just a real quick side story, I play on the Congressional women's softball team. And the way it's structured is we have Democrats, Republican senators and House members. We practice every morning - or two to three mornings a week at 7 a.m. for one single game. It maybe says a little bit about our athletic ability. But if you look at the men, the way they have it structured, it's Republicans versus Democrats. Our opponent happens to be the women's Washington Press Corps. But even at the base sense of, you know, how we have fun is very different. But, you know, Bill Clinton, when he was in Evanston, Ill. just a couple days ago, he told these very, very personal stories about Hillary Clinton and what she did for foster care, what she did for education reform in Arkansas. And they were these very personal, moving stories where I could tell you I had tears in my eyes. And I - afterwards I told him, I said, President Clinton, that's what Hillary needs to do. She needs to tell these personal stories and share the - just how - you know, the humanity of all of this. And, you know, and I hope she'll do that going forth. I have had conversations with her when we're in a small group or one-on-one. And she's absolutely wonderful.

GREENE: What's the risk of doing that more? Why don't we see more of that from her? And why do you - I mean, it sounds like you need to be asking for more, but why doesn't she do it more? What's the risk?

BUSTOS: Well, it is difficult. You know, I mean, when you're in the public eye you don't know how much you want to reveal about yourself. And you want to make sure that you're taken seriously from a policy perspective. I think there's absolutely no doubt in most American's minds that Hillary Clinton is smart and talented and she has depth and she has understanding of the issues. So I think as we go forward it - hopefully it'll become easier for her to share her personal stories. But, you know, again, I don't want to be overly prescriptive about this. I think she is - has the qualities it takes to be the next president of the United States. And I think she has the kind of leadership that we are craving.

GREENE: OK, we're listening just this morning - on this morning after a Democratic debate to supporters of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. We just heard from U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. She's a Democrat representing the state of Illinois and she is supporting Hillary Clinton. Congresswoman, thanks so much for your time this morning.

BUSTOS: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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