CNN just sent over this rushed transcript of Hillary Clinton's response to President Bush's threat to veto any extension of the State Children Health Insurance Program that expanded on the current legislation's scope.
"I think his veto threat is very unfortunate," says Clinton. "And, you know, let him go out with me and meet the families who have lost their own insurance, who, yes, maybe they make $45,000, $50,000, they live in a high-income place, or maybe they are just barely over the line eligible for Medicaid. And the states in which they live want to help them. Republicans and Democrats and the Congress want to help them. And the president just says no."
In the interview, Clinton avoids answering a question about former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's attack on Rudy Giuliani. "I'm not engaging in any of that. I'm focused on my campaign," she said.
She was also asked if she worried about any fallout from the fund-raising scandal involving Norman Hsu, who was just charged by federal prosecutors in New York for defrauding investors in what they called a "massive Ponzi scheme."
"No," she said. "Because unfortunately none of us caught the problem that were there. This happened to a lot of campaigns, a lot of investors who made investments that unfortunately don't look like they were treated appropriately. The system of justice will work its course, and I think that appropriate."
Here's the full transcript
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, this children's health care bill was originally passed by the Republican Congress back in 1997, when Senator Hillary Clinton was herself in the White House, very familiar with this program.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's right.
YELLIN: President Bush this morning issued a veto threat calling this nationalized, federalized health care. Is that fair?
CLINTON: Well, it's neither fair nor reflective of what the bipartisan support that this program has. You know, I worked very hard to pass it in 1997, which we did on a bipartisan basis. What we have done in the Senate and the House is to have bipartisan support to extend it.
Because while the president has been in office, we've had one million more children the last two years lose insurance. And these are children, by and large, that are in families that are working. Because if they were very poor, they two be covered by Medicaid. So he is walking away from taking care of our children, and I find that just unimaginable.
And I think to start engaging in name calling and calling it government-run health care and all of that is not only wrong, but it really, in my view, does a great disservice to the people in this Congress who are working in a bipartisan way to try to cover more kids and give them the health care they deserve to have.
YELLIN: But both the president and Republicans here who don't support the measure say that it is grossly too expensive, it covers middle-class children, and it's a way to really move them off private insurance. Is that — do you have a response to that?
CLINTON: Well, in fact, the greatest number of children becoming uninsured are in middle-class families. Because the employer-based system is eroding, and people are not getting the help that they need from their employers and they can't afford health care on their own, and their children are going without insurance. I see this all the time as I travel around the country.
And, of course, this is a president who has driven us into deep deficits after we had a balanced budget and a surplus six-and-a-half years ago. And this is a president who is more than happy to continue to spend billions of dollars every week on the war in Iraq when the country and the Congress believe we should change direction. And this is a president who has really broken faith with the states under the children's health insurance program, because it is a partnership between the federal and the state governments.
And for all those reasons, I think his veto threat is very unfortunate, and, you know, let him go out with me and meet the families who have lost their own insurance, who, yes, maybe they make $45,000, $50,000, they live in a high-income place, or maybe they are just barely over the line eligible for Medicaid. And the states in which they live want to help them. Republicans and Democrats and the Congress want to help them. And the president just says no.
YELLIN: May I switch gears and ask you a campaign-related question? There's an escalating war of words between your campaign and Giuliani's campaign. Was it appropriate for Governor Bill Sachs (Vilsack) to bring Giuliani's personal life into all of this?
CLINTON: Well, I'm not engaging in any of that. I'm focused on my campaign. My campaign is about my ideas, what I want to do northern the future, the agenda I'm presenting to the American people. You know, this week I came out with a comprehensive health care plan that I think would cover every American. That's what I'm going to be talking about.
And, you know, they'll be plenty of time for the politics.
But right now what we're trying to do is to lay out a positive agenda for America. We've got so much work to do here, when it comes to health care and the economy and energy and global warming, To say nothing of getting us out of Iraq. So, I'd like to see us continue to stay focused on what matters to the American people.
YELLIN: And finally, one of your fund-raisers is being charged today. Are you concerned at all that this will have a negative impact on your campaign?
CLINTON: No. Because unfortunately none of us caught the problem that were there. This happened to a lot of campaigns, a lot of investors who made investments that unfortunately don't look like they were treated appropriately. The system of justice will work its course, and I think that appropriate.