Clinton: 'Sanders has had trouble answering questions' in New York

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton held a news conference in Queens Monday
  • She took swipes at Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Watch CNN and NY1's Democratic debate, moderated by Wolf Blitzer, Thursday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET.

Queens, New York (CNN)Hillary Clinton, looking to stem any momentum Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders picked up from a string of recent wins, said Monday in Queens that the "bright lights" of New York have made it difficult for the Vermont senator to answer questions and defend his plans.

Clinton blasted Sanders' stance on immigration and Wall Street during a news conference and defended the fact that she is hitting Republican front-runner Donald Trump while at the same time still running against Sanders.
"I have noticed that under the bright spotlight and scrutiny here in New York, Sen. Sanders has had trouble answering questions," Clinton said, a reference to the senator's interview with the New York Daily News editorial board. "He has had trouble answering questions about his core issue, namely, dealing with the banks. He has had trouble answering foreign policy questions."
    Sanders struggled to cite how he would break up big banks during his interview with the New York paper, a fact the Clinton campaign has revisited repeatedly ahead of the April 19 primary in New York.
    Clinton said Monday that she was "really looking forward" to the CNN/NY1 Democratic debate in Brooklyn on Thursday, where the former secretary of state is expected to hit Sanders again for the interview.
    "I think it will be lively," Clinton said, a nod to the fact that the race between Clinton and Sanders has grown more acrimonious of late.
    Clinton previewed an attack line she will likely use against Sanders on Thursday by blasting the Vermont senator's stance on immigration.
    "I think the best chance we had for immigration reform was under Ted Kennedy's leadership in 2007. I voted for it. Sen. Sanders voted against it," Clinton said Monday. "I think our records are very clear. I started co-sponsoring the dream act back in 2002 or '03. And I consistently did that. Sen. Sanders, by contest, was supporting vigilantes, the so-called Minutemen on the border."
    Hillary Clinton's New York subway joyride
    hillary clinton rides nyc subway MetroCard swiping moos erin pkg_00001729


      Hillary Clinton's New York subway joyride


    Hillary Clinton's New York subway joyride 02:02
    Sanders voted for the Community Protection Act of 2006, a measure that, among other things, barred the Department of Homeland Security from providing "a foreign government information relating to the activities of an organized volunteer civilian action group, operating in the State of California, Texas, New Mexico or Arizona."
    Clinton was in Queens on Monday to visit Jackson Diner, an Indian buffet in Jackson Heights, a neighborhood regarded as one of the most multi-cultural neighborhoods in the country. Clinton headlined an a conversation with Rep. Joe Crowley, who represents Jackson Heights, and a group of local leaders from different ethnic communities.
    Clinton said that she was not "surprised" the race was this heated, this late.
    "Let's remember, I went all the way to the end in 2008," Clinton said, referring to her Democratic primary race against then-Sen. Barack Obama. "I am not making any comment about how hard anybody competes. I am for a good, tough contest."
    Clinton also knocked Trump when speaking to members of the community in Queens.
    "I have been speaking out against Trump, and I will continue to speak out against him, because I don't want anyone to hear that and think that is how we behave," Clinton said. "His words are hurting our country."
    The diner stop in Queens was meant to bolster an ad the campaign released on Monday morning that knocks Trump for comments about immigrants and Muslims and cast Clinton as the candidate "the one tough enough to stop Trump."
    Clinton has signaled recently that she is ready to move past the Democratic primary, arguing on Saturday in Brooklyn that Democrats need to unify so that she can "we can go after the Republicans full-time."
    Clinton defended focusing on Trump while Sanders is still in the race, arguing that she "can walk and chew gum at the same time."
    "I intend to do everything I can to be the nominee. I am clearly focused on that," Clinton said. "But at the same time, I want to start drawing the starkest distinctions between what I know America stands for ... and what Donald Trump is standing for."