'Instrument of Bold, Practical Solutions'

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., added her name to the list of White House hopefuls Saturday, and her announcement immediately kicked the 2008 race for president into higher gear. During a live interview on "World News With Charles Gibson," she described her decision and explained why she believes she is qualified to run the country. The following is a transcript of her interview:

Charles Gibson: Sen. Clinton joins us from Washington. Good to have you with us.

Hillary Clinton: Thank you.

Gibson: I'd like to get your mission statement, if I could, in 20 or 30 seconds as to why you think you should be the person elected president.

Clinton: I think my experience and my understanding of the problems facing our country equip me to be the best person to take over in January 2009, when we will be facing a lot of problems at home and abroad and frankly inheriting many of the problems that have been made worse by this administration.

Gibson: A lot of people think you have been running for president for years. But you said you were undecided. We took you at your word. Can you tell me was there a moment that tipped the scales, and you said, "OK, this is it I'm going to run and this is why"?

Clinton: You know, after my election in New York, where I was really determined to do the best job I could as the senator from New York, I then started to think about what people had been talking to me about, literally, for years, and it was a hard decision. A lot of people had me already running, but that wasn't the way that I felt about it. And the more I thought about it, and looked at the challenges that we face as a country, I believe that I can build on all of the positive activities that we saw in the Clinton administration but go beyond that.

I want to be an instrument of bold but practical solutions, whether it's health care, making it universal, energy independence, finally dealing with climate change, restoring our leadership and respect for America around the world.

And I am very fortunate that I have had a wealth of experiences going back many years that I think equips me for this particular moment in our history.

Gibson: You are a strong, credible female candidate for president of the United States, and I mean no disrespect in this, but would you be in this position were it not for your husband?

Clinton: Well, I don't know. You can't go back and live your life in some other way than you've lived it. Bill and I started a conversation 35 years ago about our country. We both love this country, and I worry about her future.

I never thought I would be in the Senate. I certainly didn't think I would run for president. But, you know, life has a way of putting challenges in front of you and you decide to meet them or go another direction. And I care too much about what's happened in our nation. I care too much about my daughter, and every other child who should have a good future, but there's a cloud over it. And I think we need to get back to doing what Americans do best, rolling our sleeves up and solving problems instead of living with this sense that things are just not going right.

We're not being asked to make any real commitment or any sacrifice. We've had leadership the last six years that has not really risen to the occasion, and it's time to get back to what we do as Americans, and that's charting a good future.

Gibson: Let me get to some of those. I'm constrained by time because you wanted to do this in interview in unedited fashion, and so I'd like to lay down some benchmarks on issues that I hope we'll talk about more in the coming year, and I've tried to frame them as much as I can as yes or no questions.

Would you take a pledge to sign a bill that would not raise taxes? Clinton: I'm not going to take any pledges on any issues because I want to be in a position to bring people together and figure out the best ideas to solve our problems and not get locked into this partisan ideological debate that's been so sterile so many years.

Gibson: Can we finance this war without raising taxes?

Clinton: Well, we've never had a president that took us to war and refused to pay for it. Hopefully, we're going to get this war and its costs, which are growing exponentially, into the budget, which he also wouldn't do and we're going have to make some tough decisions but we also don't want to be straitjacketed because if we miss the opportunities for energy independence and expanding health care and taking the burden off the competition that we face globally, we will not be in a position to be as rich and strong and powerful in the future as we should be.

Gibson: Was your vote to authorize war in Iraq a mistake?

Clinton: I've said many times that I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come and ask for a vote, there would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it.

Gibson: Is Barack Obama qualified to be president?

Clinton: Well, he's a terrific guy and we're going to have a great group of talented competitors in this contest and I'm looking forward for everybody putting out their qualifications and let the voters decide.

Gibson: That's something of a dodge. In your mind is he qualified to be president?

Clinton: You know Charlie, this is such an intensely personal decision that voters make.

We're all going to get out there, we're going to say what we believe in, put our experience out there before the voters and that is what is so great about our system, all of the people watching you tonight are going to make that decision -- about me and everybody.

Gibson: Senator, appreciate you being with us.

Clinton: Thank you.

Gibson: We look forward to talking with you again.