Clinton Says Calls to Drop Out Are 'Just Idle Talk'

Clinton responds to superdelegate defection in interview with "Nightline."


May 1, 2008— -- Hillary Clinton campaigned Wednesday in Indianapolis, on the same day that Indiana superdelegate and former Clinton supporter Joe Andrew announced he was switching his allegiance to Barack Obama.

Andrew, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, nominated by Bill Clinton, cited his belief that continuing to support Clinton was bad for the Democratic Party.

"I think this has been good for the Democratic Party," Clinton countered in an interview with "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, adding that Andrew didn't call her to tell her about his decision.

"I haven't spoken to him," Clinton said. "But, you know, people can decide however they want to decide. That's up to them. But anyone who believes this is bad for the party I just think is not paying attention, because the level of enthusiasm to be part of this process is, from my perspective, helping us build a stronger and deeper Democratic base."

Clinton said those who say she should get out of the race "don't understand politics or history."

When asked if she would pull out of the race if she didn't win in Indiana, she replied, "I'm not going to pledge to do anything. I'm going to just keep getting up every single day and going out there.

"I think that this is such a close election, why would any of us think that it shouldn't go to the end? We've got a process. The rules are it goes all the way into June. Let's follow the rules and get to those June contests and see where are."

Even if the battle goes all the way to the Democratic convention in August, it would not hurt the party's chances of defeating the Republican candidate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, Clinton said.

"I've seen elections turn on a dime," she said. "Senator Kerry was way ahead when he wrapped up the nomination in '04. This is just idle talk."

Clinton called her base of support "broader and deeper" than Obama's, and said, "At the end of the day, that's what it should be about for Democrats. You know, it is who can better win. And I've won the big states. I've won the states that we have to anchor. If we had the Republican rules, I would already be the nominee."

As the first lady during her husband's administration, Clinton had an office in the West Wing, but she said that "I don't think [Bill's] going to have an office [in the White House]."

"I gave up everything when I went into the White House, you know, 15 years ago," she said. "But he has a lot of very important projects around the world that he's going to keep working on."

When asked if she sees any similarities between Obama's campaign and her husband's 1992 campaign, Clinton said, "No. No, not at all. I give [Obama] great credit for running a really successful campaign and doing a wonderful job, and inspiring people. But when Bill ran in '92, he was the longest-serving governor in America. He'd actually solved a lot of problems. He had immersed himself in the issues and had very specific ideas about what he would do as president. So he wasn't just giving speeches; he was offering very specific solutions to the problems that he thought America faced."

One speech made by Obama received significant attention — his speech on race delivered in Philadelphia in March.

Asked why she hadn't given a similar speech about gender, often as divisive an issue as race, Clinton said she believes her groundbreaking campaign makes a strong statement.

"Well, I think I live that every day. I think I'm exemplifying it. I think I'm helping to change people's understanding of the multi-dimensional roles of women. Every time I stand on a stage in front of thousands of people and talk about being the commander-in-chief, that is all about gender," Clinton said. " And I think that people are, you know, really coming to grasp what a significant historical candidacy mine is, not so much about me as it is about what it will mean to our daughters and our sons, what it will mean to our government and our society, and to the rest of the world."

As oil prices continue to climb, Clinton explained her support for the gas tax holiday, which would suspend the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal tax on gasoline during the summer months. Her support comes despite having opposed a similar reduction in the same tax when running for the Senate in 2000.

Obama and others have said that the plan would only save most Americans just $28 over the course of the summer. He opposes the plan.

Clinton called the proposal "short-term relief" and said it could benefit "people who drive long distances for their commute, which a lot of Americans do."

"We look at it and see more of a $70 savings," said Clinton. "Now, maybe for some people that's not very much, but if you're counting every penny, and most people are today, that should be significant."

Clinton said she would only support the plan if it were funded by an "excess profits tax" on oil companies.

"I believe with all my heart we've got to start going after the oil companies to lay the groundwork for what has been my comprehensive long-term solution about what we would do. … And I've got the most comprehensive plan about how we get to higher gas mileage cars and how we begin to push much more on biofuels."

On Tuesday night the Iranian government responded to Clinton's assertion that the United States would "totally obliterate" the country if Iran used nuclear weapons to attack Israel. The Iranians called the remarks "provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible."

"Well, that's kind of strange coming from a provocative, irresponsible regime, as we have currently in Iran," Clinton said. "I've been very clear. I would engage in broad-based diplomacy with Iran. I would have done that years ago. I disagree with the Bush administration's policy of isolating Iran, and I would try to get to the negotiating table in as quick a manner as I could.

"But I also believe we have to do everything possible to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. … I want to make it very clear to the leadership and to the people of Iran that acquiring nuclear weapons is not in their interest, and were they ever to be so reckless as to launch an attack against Israel or a nuclear attack against any of our friends and allies, they would face massive retaliation."

Clinton spoke about a number of different policy issues, but also touched on a pressing pop culture topic. Is it actually true that Clinton's dream celebrity date is Abraham Lincoln, as she told "People" Magazine?

"It is pretty dorky," Clinton said. "But, you know, they asked me who I would want to have a date with for dinner, anybody, living or dead. And I assumed it was not a romantic date, because I'm not into that.

"But I thought — well OK, who would I really like to sit down and talk to?"

McFadden pressed, saying, "Actually, the word on the campaign is that this is actually a big cover-up, that Dr. McDreamy [actor Patrick Dempsey from "Grey's Anatomy"] is the guy."

The senator laughed. "Well, you're not supposed to tell everything you know, Cynthia," she said. "He is terrific, though. I'm a big, big fan."

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