Hillary Clinton blamed trust issues on the "barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the right"
"People should and do trust me," she told CNN's Brianna Keilar
Clinton on San Francisco: "The city made a mistake, not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported"
In Hillary Clinton’s first national interview of the 2016 race, she attacked her Republican rivals on immigration and dismissed the suggestion that the American people have a problem trusting her.
“People should and do trust me,” she told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
She blamed the “barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the right” for fueling a perception that trust is an area of vulnerability for her.
Clinton displayed little hesitation about attacking Republicans herself, saying that she is “very disappointed” in Donald Trump for his comments about immigrants and in the Republican Party for not condemning his remarks more quickly.
She then pivoted to skewering the entire GOP field for their immigration stance, saying, “They’re on a spectrum of hostility, which I think is really regrettable in a nation of immigrants like ours.”
The interview foreshadowed the Clinton that will hit the campaign trail in the coming months as election season heats up. She was occasionally defensive, especially when pressed on whether she has any responsibility for the public’s mistrust in her. But she had no problem with going on the offense against her Republican challengers.
Clinton took direct aim at GOP rival Jeb Bush.
“He doesn’t believe in a path to citizenship. If he did at one time, he no longer does,” she said.
The Bush campaign rebuffed Clinton’s criticism and instead accused her of flip-flopping on immigration.
“Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected and her numerous flip-flops on immigration prove it,” said Emily Benavides, a Bush campaign spokeswoman, in a statement.
“As he outlined in his book on this issue, Gov. Bush believes in a conservative legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system that includes earned legal status for those currently in the country after they pay fines and taxes, learn English and commit no substantial crimes while securing our border,” she said.
Clinton also blamed the city of San Francisco for mishandling the case of an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times before killing a woman there – in a sanctuary city where local law enforcement do not enforce federal immigration laws.
“The city made a mistake, not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported,” she said. “I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence that should be acted on.”
The full interview aired Tuesday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and will re-air at 8 p.m. on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Pressed on why the public has a hard time trusting her, Clinton maintained she faced “the same kind of onslaught” in her two New York Senate campaigns and her confirmation as secretary of state, and said Republicans have sought to turn controversies like her use of a private email address and the Clinton Foundation’s actions against her.
And that, Clinton said, is why national polls and swing-state surveys have found that a majority of voters say they don’t see her as honest and trustworthy.
A Quinnipiac University Swing State poll found that by margins of 8 to 14 percentage points voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are skeptical of Clinton’s trustworthiness.
In Florida, 51% of voters hold the negative view of Clinton, compared to 43% who feel she is trustworthy. In Ohio, 53% of voters find Clinton not trustworthy, compared to 40% who do. And in Pennsylvania, 54% of voters don’t find her honest, while 40% do.
“I think it’s understandable that when questions are raised, people maybe are thinking about them and wondering about them,” Clinton said.
“But I have every confidence that during the course of this campaign, people are going to know who will fight for them, who will be there when they need them, and that’s the kind of person I am and that’s what I will do, not only in a campaign but as president,” she said.