NEW YORK (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton appeared Tuesday on "American Morning" with CNN's John Roberts to discuss the presidential campaign, the financial crisis and her views on electing a woman to the White House.
Sen. Hillary Clinton says, "Let's stay focused on what we elect a person for."
Clinton was also asked about raising the issue of Sen. Barack Obama's relationship with former Weather Underground member William Ayers during her campaign for the Democratic nomination.
John Roberts: Would you like to make a prediction about what will happen in 21 days' time?
Hillary Clinton: John, I feel very good about this election. I think we're going to have a really good victory for Democrats. Obviously, Barack and Joe are going to win. We're going to win some more Senate seats and some House seats. Obviously, I'm going to keep working as hard as I can, because I don't want to take anything for granted. But I think that the country's attention being focused on the real problems that we face has raised the value and importance of leadership, and I think Sen. Obama has demonstrated great leadership qualities.
Roberts: Do you think that there's any way Sen. Obama can lose it at this point? Has he closed the deal with voters?
Clinton: I don't want to jinx what is going on, because it is very promising, and I'm really optimistic. But in three weeks, that can be a lifetime in politics, and so he has to keep doing what he's doing. He has to campaign hard. He has to explain what he's doing to the American people. He has to keep talking about the solutions he has for our economic woes and really give people who are not yet decided the confidence that by voting for him, their lives will be better. Watch Sen. Clinton discuss the presidential race »
Roberts: You spend an awful lot of time out there on the campaign trail -- some 50 or more events. Your husband noted the other day that you have done more to support a nominee not only than any runner-up he has seen in his lifetime but all of the runners-up put together. But there are many analysts, senator, who say that's what you have to do if you have any hope of running in 2012 should Barack Obama happen to lose this race.
Clinton: Well, that's sure not the way I see it. I'm doing this because No. 1, I love my country, and No. 2, I've spent my entire life -- not just the last two years -- talking about and working toward the changes that I think would make us even better than we are. And there isn't any doubt in my mind that the McCain-Palin ticket would take us backwards, and we can't afford that, John. I'm very enthusiastic about the leadership that Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden offer our country on every issue that I care about as a senator, as an American.
Roberts: I haven't had chance to ask you this question, but it was said that you put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and that Gov. Sarah Palin actually shattered that glass ceiling. As a woman, and not to say that women vote for women just because of gender, but would you not like to see the very first woman in the White House?
Clinton: Well, I would like to see the very first woman in the White House who I agree with and who I think has policies that would really fulfill the goals that I have for our country. Of course it's exciting to have a woman on the ticket. The Democrats had a vice presidential candidate as a woman back in 1984. The Republicans did it this year. But that, in and of itself, is not enough reason, and really no one will shatter that ceiling until we have a woman serving as president or vice president. But I am going to be supporting women and men with whom I agree -- who I believe have the right policies and the right ideas about what's best for America.
Roberts: There has been a lot of talk, as you know, Sen. Clinton, that potentially Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are going too far with some of their campaign rallies. I'm sure that you know John Lewis said the other day that he was "deeply disturbed" by the negative tone -- that McCain and Palin were playing with fire. What do you make of Congressman Lewis' comments?
Clinton: I think that even John McCain realized that there were things being said that he did not want or approve of and made a comment to that effect, and I appreciated him doing that. This campaign needs to stay focused on what the American people are focused on and not stray off into negativity and distraction and diversionary tactics because, after all, the next president will inherit I think some of the biggest problems any American president has walked into.
Let's stay focused on what we elect a person for. We hire a president to make the very best decisions, to have a good team around, to really push our country forward toward goals that are going to make us stronger and richer and safer and smarter in the future. I'm hoping that's what this election in the next three weeks will be about.
Roberts: Now, senator, the catalyst for all this ire at the McCain-Palin rallies appeared to be when Gov. Palin first said that Sen. Obama has been "palling around" with terrorists. Now, you didn't ever say that he was palling around with terrorists, but you did raise the issue of his relationship with former Weather Underground member William Ayers. Why did you raise that issue?
Clinton: I think that all kinds of issues are raised in campaigns, but it really depends upon how they're raised, and Sen. Obama and his campaign have responded to this.
Roberts: What was the relevance?
Clinton: Well, I think that the relevance is that people -- when you run for president, everything is wide open. And obviously, voters are going to want to know a lot about you.
Roberts: But is there any particular significance to his relationship with William Ayers that the country should be concerned about?
Clinton: Well, I think he's answered that, and certainly it's time to move on and focus on what Americans are concerned about.
Roberts: The McCain campaign itself -- [conservative political commentator] Bill Kristol says that John McCain should fire his campaign. [Republican campaign consultant] Ed Rollins drew some parallels with the splits that fractured your campaign. You're a longtime friend of Sen. McCain; you've traveled around the world with him. What advice would you give him, senator, to turn things around?
Clinton: I'm not going to give him any advice. He has to decide what is best for him to do. Certainly one thing that I hope is that at the debate Wednesday night and in next three weeks is that we have a clash of ideas here -- differing policies. Defend your proposal to privatize Social Security. Defend your health care plan, which would undermine employer-based health care. If you think these are good ideas for America, then go out there and present them and see whether you can convince people.
That's what campaigns should be about, in my opinion, and I hope that's what the next three weeks is about, and I'm confident that when the American people compare the Obama-Biden ticket with the McCain-Palin ticket and what each stands for, they are going to support Sen. Obama.
Roberts: Let me ask you about this economic crisis. Almost every day, we're hearing something different from this administration. There was the $700 billion bailout bill that was crafted -- now they're thinking of tweaking around the edges. Does this administration yet have the right plan to address this crisis?
Clinton: I think they are moving towards a much better plan. They didn't initially, and that's one of the reasons why there was such a negative reaction. It was hard to understand, and people couldn't quite grasp what it is they were actually attempting to do. But I hope that the administration has now moved toward what is both a cleaner and more effective means of enhancing liquidity, and that is making these direct investments and taking a preferred position so that we get the upside as taxpayers. I think that is a better idea. It's what was promoted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Great Britain. It seems to be what our country and other countries are moving toward.
This is an unprecedented crisis, and I do think that it's difficult for all of us to get our arms around it. But, at least, now the Treasury is saying that they will take this more effective step. There's still a lot to be done. We haven't done nearly enough to prevent home foreclosures. I've been calling for a moratorium for about I guess 15, 16 months. And I think we need to do that. So there's more to do. But we're moving in the right direction.
Roberts: Sen. Obama has also called for that as well. And in addition, a penalty-free withdrawal of 15 percent of 401(k) investments this year and next, up to a maximum of $10,000. What about the McCain mortgage plan, the $300 billion that he unveiled that night at the debate? That's a modification of your plan, but with McCain's plan, it seems as though there doesn't seem to have to be any kind of a write-down -- no haircut -- of the value of these mortgages, that they could be bought up at face value. Is that a good idea?
Clinton: I don't think so. The plan that I have been promoting would require the financial institutions to write down the mortgage, to take, as you say, a haircut. I think that's a much better approach. There's not a lot of details about the plan that Sen. McCain threw out. I've actually drafted very detailed legislation, worked with a number of economists. It's modeled on what worked during the Great Depression, and I think something along the lines of what I'm advocating does need to be implemented.
As you say, Sen. Obama has come up with some new and additional ideas to give people confidence, to get them to leave their money in their financial institutions so that then, in turn, it can be lent out and we can get the wheels of commerce moving.
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