Clinton told an audience at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire that the punishment is "too frequently applied and very unfortunately often times in a discriminatory way," but that it should not be gotten rid of altogether.
“I do not favor abolishing it, however, because I think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in some states where there are hundreds of people on death row,” she said.
The question came during the college’s Politics and Eggs event, an iconic stop on the road to the state's primary, the first in the nation.
Clinton has long supported the death penalty, but this is the first time she was asked about the issue during her run for president. In 2003, when she was in the Senate, she co-sponsored the Innocence Project Act, which created procedures for inmates to apply for DNA testing.
One of Clinton’s Democratic rivals, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, immediately responded to Clinton’s comments. O’Malley abolished the state's death penalty in 2013 when he was governor.
“Here in New Hampshire the gender wage gap is actually larger than the national average even though women work in greater numbers and graduate from college in greater numbers in New Hampshire than they do nationwide,” Clinton said.
During tonight’s debate, sponsored by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, the Clinton campaign will air commercials on pay equity in the critical states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
“If you're looking for somebody who will tell you everything that's wrong for America I am not your candidate because I think that there is far more right with our country than is wrong and I’ll tell you something else, I don't think we have to make America great I think we have to make America greater, fairer, more just, filled with opportunities,” she said.