Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Speak to Cynthia McFadden


CLINTON: Actually it was, and here's why. I had two dates that bookended that period; one, the East Asia Summit where I had to go and represent President Obama, because he obviously couldn't leave the country; and the other, the 25th what's called AUSMIN where Bob Gates and I meet with our counterparts here in Australia. They were a week apart with the election in the middle. So for me it didn't make sense to go to Vietnam, turn around, go back to the U.S. and then come back again.

And also there were some really important other opportunities to go to Cambodia, which is a country that is coming out of such a a terrible, traumatic experience inflicted by the Khmer Rouge, the United States has supported the trials and we want them to continue doing the trials; to go to Malaysia, a country whose prime minister gave a really important speech at the U.N. about a month and a half ago, calling for moderates to join a movement against extremism; to go to Papua New Guinea, which has found natural gas and a big Exxon Mobil contract. So there were lots of reasons for me to go between Vietnam and Australia.

McFADDEN: So let me tell you, the Democrats . . .

CLINTON: . . . What happened? [laughter]

McFADDEN: The Democrats really took a licking!

CLINTON: Yeah, I'm very, very sorry about that. I think that it's something that happens in midterm elections as a rule. After the inauguration of a new President the members of Congress of his party lose seats. But I was very, very sad to see a lot of good people turned out of Congress for doing the right thing.

McFADDEN: Well you lived through it.

CLINTON: I did, 1994.

McFADDEN: Lots of headlines about questioning, wondering whether or not President Obama can pivot the way your husband was able to. What do you think? Can Obama pull a Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I think he can, you know, show clearly the leadership that the country expects from him and which he's providing.

McFADDEN: What do you think it means when they say, can Obama pull a Clinton? What do you think they're talking about?

CLINTON: Well I think, I think what they're talking about is when you suffer the losses that both my husband did and that President Obama did in this election, how do you stay your course and your principles and do what you believe is right for the country, but present it and sell it in a way that more people will understand what you're trying to do?

You know, when Bill made- Bill made a lot of hard decisions for the Congress, you know, raising taxes to go down with the deficit, getting assaults weapons off the streets, and a lot of other things that were very difficult. And people lost their seats in Congress because nobody understood exactly what this would all mean to the average voter.

Similarly, the President inherited a terrible economic situation. I think what he's done has prevented a depression, even though I'm very worried about the fact that employment is not where it should be and the President is working hard on that. But what he has to do now is figure out ways to advance what he thinks is the right agenda for America, working with a Republican house and a narrower majority of Democrats in the senate. But . . .

McFADDEN: . . . Your husband . . .

CLINTON: . . . I'm absolutely confident he can do that.

McFADDEN: Your husband moved toward the middle.

CLINTON: You know, I I think that is sort of . . .

McFADDEN: . . . Or is that . . .

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