Given the rarity of Hillary Clinton giving a formal press conference, it seems worth posting a full transcript of her comments from earlier today at the Gala café in Manchester. Highlights include: her essentially calling Iowa an undemocratic backwater that discriminates against potential Hillary voters; her suggesting that reporters take a closer, more skeptical look at Barack Obama.
Paraphrased questions in brackets.
You know what I was alluding to is that, as you all know because you have covered it for years, I certainly have been put through the paces. I have been looked at from every which way. I think I come into this race tested and proven and ready to take on the Republicans no matter what they send my way.
[Is the Obama movement too powerful to stand in the way of?]
No, I think that campaigns are about individual — they are about who has the best chance to make the changes we want to see in America. I have two big questions that I am going to ask the people of New Hampshire to answer. You know, the people of New Hampshire are famously independent, they will make up their own minds about who they believe should be the next president. The first question is the most important one: who is ready to lead on day one to do what has to be done to repair the damage and create the environment in which change can take place? And who is our best candidate to actually go the distance and win in November 2008.
Now obviously I believe the answer to both those questions is me. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe that. I am not doing this, you know, as just some kind of an exercise. I am doing it because I care passionately about this country and its purpose. And its purpose is to continue the progress that America has always stood for. And frankly I think we’re stalled and I even think we are going backwards. And I want to be the architect who brings back that sense of possibility and purpose to America. And I am going to do everything I can in this campaign to make that case. I am going to travel all over New Hampshire and speak to as many people as I can possibly reach to make my case. And I am going to you know really look to hear what New Hampshire voters have on their minds and answers many questions as possible before we close the polls on Tuesday.
[Has Obama received enough scrutiny?]
Look I’m running based on my record; my record of 35 years of making positive change for people. I’m running on my plans as to what I will do for health care, energy the economy and so much else. And I am running on the fact that I have the experience not only to make the changes that we desperately want but to win the election to get into the position to do that.
I think everybody needs to be vetted and tested and that is the way an election is supposed to operate because the last thing the Democrats need is to, you know, move quickly through this process because it’s so telescoped, without taking a hard look at all of us. You know, I have a different health care plan than Sen. Obama. You know, we have gone at this but the facts remain that my plan covers everybody. My plan has a greater likely hood of achieving the goal that we have set to actually get to universal health care.
On a lot of these issues it’s hard to know exactly, you know, where he stands and people need to ask that that and to give that information to the voters. I am more than happy to take my record and my qualifications which you all have been extensively, you know, going after for many years now to the voters of New Hampshire, because that’s what an election is supposed to be about.
[Why did he do so well with women voters in Iowa?]
You know I think that there was a huge turnout which was great because it was much greater than, by Iowa standards, it will be much less than what you’ll see here in New Hampshire, and I did very very well with people over 45 and I didn’t do as well with people under 30. And I take responsibility for that. So I’m going to, in the next five do as much as I can to talk about my record and creating opportunities for young people, I went into politics because I believe we have to make the future better than today and I think I have a proven record of actually producing that. And I am not someone who just calls for change or demands for change but actually produces change. And I am going to take that message to young people as well as people of all ages.
[What’s your reaction to the Iowa loss?]
Well you know Iowa does not have the best track record in determining who the party’s nominee is. Everybody knows that. And New Hampshire is famously independent, it is a place where people want to make up their own minds. They are not interested in what anybody else has decided. They want to look us up and down, make that judgment and I welcome that. I think that is exactly what the New Hampshire process should be about.
So I am going to cover as much ground as I can in the next five days, meet as many voters as I can I‘ve got wonderful supporters like Bobby Kennedy, who are crisscrossing the state to get my message out. Because I think that a lot of those who have worked with me and who know an end have seen the results of my 35 years of efforts understand that we need a president who will actually deliver change you know it is critical that we build confidence in our country. That we can’t have false hopes. We’ve got to have a person who can walk into that office on day one and who can do the hard work that it takes to deliver change. And believe I’m that person and thankfully I have a lot of strong supporters who understand how important that is and who are willing to make the case with me.
[Are you suggesting Obama is superficial?]
I’m not suggesting anything. I am making the case for myself, but I think one of the ways I make that is by drawing contrasts. Drawing contrasts between what I have done for 35 years and what my leading opponents have done. Drawing contrasts with the changes I have actually produced in people’s lives and what they’ve done. So I think that is exactly what an election is supposed to be about. You know elections are not run in parallel tracks, they have to converge so that voters get an idea of how to compare and contrast us. And you know I think there is a lot to talk about comparing and contrasting those three of us, who, you know, are out of Iowa and into New Hampshire and off to the primary on Tuesday. I will certainly be drawing those comparisons and, you know, I think the voters are going to welcome that.
[How disappointed are you about losing in Iowa?]
I was never a frontrunner of any significance in Iowa. Iowa I knew was always going to be hard for me, it has a lot of difficulties that I knew were there in terms of my candidacy. Both of my leading opponents, one had been there for years the other is from a neighboring state. So you know I feel we executed the limit of what we could produce in Iowa under the circumstance that we were facing. And you know we had a great team there and I’m very proud of them but obviously this is a new day, this is a new state, this is a primary election where you know you are not disenfranchised if you work at night. You know? You actually can come out and vote. You are not disenfranchised if you are not in the state. You can actually send in an absentee ballot. So this is going to be a much more representative electorate becuas we’ve got people who are going to be able to express their opinion in the way that we run elections in America. And I welcome that. And I am going to work as hard as I can. I apologize ahead of time because those of you who are following me are probably not going to catch up on your sleep for the next five days. But we are going to have a great time. We are going to crisscross the state we are going to go anywhere two or more people are willing to meet and hear my case and ask me the questions that are on their minds to help them make their decisions. So I’m excited. I feel really good about where we are and what we are going to be able to do and I am looking forward to speaking tonight at the Hunter Club and doing a debate tomorrow night and then seeing as many people in New Hampshire as possible between now and the time that the polls close.