Exclusive Interview With Sen. Hillary Clinton

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that was based on the idea that they were rational.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe President Ahmadinejad in Iran is rational?

CLINTON: Well, that's why they need to know -- see that's the whole point of my argument, here, George. You really helped me out by making it even clearer.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: We don't know exactly who makes the decisions in Iran. That's why we need this intense diplomatic effort to try to figure out who actually is, you know, saying what Iran will do.

But there are the vast majority of Iranians who are rational, who get up every day; they go to work; they go to school; they love their families. We have to empower them, both in a positive way, but also with a very clear message, that their leaders need to be very careful about any kind of decision that they would contemplate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So who would be eligible to come under the U.S. nuclear umbrella?

And what would they have to do to get that protection?

CLINTON: The theory that I'm putting forth is, we have to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We have to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the region, because I'm not so concerned about them falling into the hands of states, which is bad enough, as I am about falling into the hands of terrorists.

Because what you just said about Iran -- Iran is a state. It's an institutional being. That's why it is deferrable. Al Qaida is not. So we cannot permit there to be proliferation of nuclear weapons.

So, instead of having Saudi Arabia saying, well, you know, Iran and we are, you know, not on the same page here; we've got to have our own weapons, what we want to work toward is some kind of security agreement to prevent that proliferation.

And we're talking about the potential deterrable effect of our being able to say, don't even think about it, Iran; I don't care who's making the decisions; come join the rest of the world community; be part of the world economy; be part of us trying to have a more peaceful and prosperous future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's go back to North Carolina for another question. Larry Wooten [phonetic spelling] is there. He's the president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau. And he has some important questions on food prices and energy.

VOTER: Sen. Clinton, as you know, agriculture is important both in North Carolina and in Indiana.

And a lot of recent media reports have focused on the high cost of food and fuel and the impact that price increases are having on family budgets and on global demand for food.

And some of these reports have even claimed that ethanol and biofuels are the reasons for these problems.

America's farmers want to be a part of the solution to our nation's energy concerns, and we take great pride in providing Americans and the people of the world with food and fiber.

What future role do you see, Senator, for farmers, in our nation's efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources?

And how would you work, as president, to ensure that agriculture remains a vital part and a vibrant part of our state and nation's economy?

CLINTON: Well, that's a great question, and it's rarely asked on national television.

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