Tuesday, April 15, 2008 5:32 PM
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: I know that in this audience there are members of the media from New York, including Margaret Sullivan from the Buffalo News and Arthur Salzberger from the New York Times and others who I don't have on this card, but I am very pleased to be here with all of you. First, I want to say that this speech is entirely off the record.
Well, you know that those days are long gone. And I am delighted to be back here once again.
I was listening to Gilbert introduce me and talk about what I said back in 2004 and how times have certainly changed.
But I want to thank newspaper publishers collectively for one of my favorite headlines of all time, which has given me great strength and encouragement over the last months, "Dewey Beats Truman."
And I often recall it as I'm travelling from place to place around our country.
I also want to thank you for those of you who have invested in the coverage of this historic campaign. Your hard-working reporters and columnists are there with us every step of the way. Some have literally been on my campaign from the very first days. And they are working extraordinarily hard, given the hours we keep and the miles that we log.
And I appreciate your continuing attention to these important issues, just as I do more generally what you do every day to convey to your readership the scope and scale of the challenges and opportunities confronting our nation and our world.
I know this is your mission. It's a mission that predates our country but was certainly inscribed into our First Amendment. And it is essential that we have you to inform an active citizenry who are the owners and operators of this democracy.
I'm also well aware that there are many who are worried, even as we speak, about those who work with you, journalists imprisoned, Americans as well as those from other countries, journalists who have been murdered and kidnapped in the course of their work.
CLINTON: I was recently at an event held by Vital Voices honoring Mariane Pearl whose husband Daniel's murder is a horrific and tragic reminder of the dangers that journalists increasingly face in the complex and dangerous globe.
So thank you. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you also for what you do here at home.
There are many stories that have really made a difference. One in particular that I paid a lot of attention to was The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the disturbing conditions at Walter Reed.
What was going on there at the outpatient facility was a national disgrace. What was happening took place outside of public scrutiny, and it took a lot of effort to piece the story together.
And once that story broke into public consciousness, the public and the public officials began to respond.
Now, that episode is instructive to me in two ways.
It was a lesson about the still very profound power of the traditional press to both serve and shape the public interest.
But it was also a reminder of the consequences of presidential power misapplied, misdirected or missing in action.
And that's what I would like to discuss with you today: the power and promise of the presidency. And I'd like to begin at the beginning.
Our Constitution instructs the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed and calls upon the president to swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
The presidency is not royalty. Our Constitution is crafted carefully to prevent by election what our founders overthrew by revolution.
The president is the one elected representative of the whole American people.
Our president is balanced by the Congress, which speaks for regions and states, and by the courts, which defend the individual and other important rights against assaults on our liberties.
CLINTON: The president is the only constitutional office holder with the power to speak for all of us and with the potential to unify us in the service of our national interest.
Unfortunately, our current president does not seem to understand the basic character of the office he holds.
Rather than faithfully execute the laws, he has rewritten them through signing statements, ignored them through secret legal opinions, undermined them by elevating ideology over facts.
Rather than defending the Constitution, he has defied its principles and traditions. He has abused his power while failing to understand its purpose.
This administration's unbridled ambition to transform the executive into an imperial presidency in an attempt to strengthen the office has weakened our nation. It has corrupted and corroded our moral authority and brought our prestige and reputation to its lowest ebb.
The president has failed to use the power of the presidency, the power he sought to inflate, to expand opportunity and make a real difference in people's lives.
This president seems to believe it's a good day in the White House when the government does little for ordinary Americans. That is how this administration defines the presidency: limited government, but unlimited power.
Well, I have a different view.
I believe in the power of the presidency to set big goals for America and to solve the problems of Americans, to ensure that our people have the tools they need to turn challenges into opportunities, to fulfill their God-given potential, and to build better lives for themselves and their children.
That's the kind of president I will be every day in the White House, whether the issue is health care or child care, foreign policy, or the future of our economy.
CLINTON: I am running for president because I believe in the promise of America and I believe in the power of the presidency to help fulfill that promise.
Now, that's not a sound bite. It's what I have learned, experienced and intended, as best I could, throughout my life.
I've had many opportunities. I've been blessed. And I understand that those blessings came from the hard work of my parents, my teachers, others in the village that surrounded and helped to nurture and raise me; my church, which helped to guide me; and, of course, the positive actions of my government that directly affected my life.
As a young girl, I could not go to certain colleges, compete for certain scholarships, participate, if I'd had the sporting ability, in certain sports, or obtain some kind of financial aid for playing them. There were certain jobs that were closed to me and other young women. And the horizons were not quite as broad as those for my brothers.
I grew up in a middle-class family, at a time when our nation was investing in the middle class.
After World War II, my father started a small business, saved up enough money to purchase a home. He, like so many veterans coming back from World War II, were anxious to get on with their lives.
He moved us to a suburb where he paid taxes for better schools, and where our nation made unprecedented investments in public education.
I was able to go to college and then to law school because the federal government wanted to make investments in young people. And so, when I went to law school, unable to get any financial help from my family, I worked, I had a small scholarship, and I borrowed money from the federal government at about 2 percent interest.
And I and so many others had a chance to pursue our academic dreams because our government wanted us to.
I remember so well when those experiences really came home to roost for me, as I have seen, over the last years in public life, as a senator from New York and now as a candidate for the presidency, how many families and how many young people don't have any confidence or any reason to believe that their government cares about their future.
Well, I believe that we have to change that.
The magnitude of the problems before us present a unique challenge and chance to bring this generation of Americans together, to fulfill our common purpose.
CLINTON: And summoning the nation to do so is the responsibility of our president.
Nine months from now, a few days, we'll have a new president taking the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol. That new president will inherit the job at a time of unprecedented challenges and threats.
Our economy is at risk of a deep and painful recession threatening the opportunities of million of Americans to find and keep jobs that are satisfying and well paid, to buy their own homes or keep the ones they have, to send their children to college, to save for retirement, even to afford their health care premiums, their gas bills, their utility bills, and so much else that makes up a middle- class lifestyle here in our country.
Our health care system is in crisis. And it threatens not only the health of our families, but opportunities for our businesses as they compete in the global marketplace.
Our security is threatened by the interconnected dangers of extremism, terrorism, rogue regimes, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and certainly by the ongoing war in Iraq, and a climate crisis that does threaten our way of life.
That's why it is so important that in this election, we restore balance and purpose to the presidency as the first step to restore opportunity and moral authority in America.
I believe I bring a unique set of experiences to this mission warrant of my lifetime of work going back 35 years and my incredible opportunities now on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. I have seen what happens when a president tries and succeeds on some fronts, but fails on others. I certainly witnessed and was part of the consequences of a process to create universal health care that was viewed as too insulated from people and their representatives in Congress.
But I also participated in and helped to bring about successes like the Children's Health Insurance Program, which was a bipartisan accomplishment.
CLINTON: And I watched as my husband made other, important, progressive steps on behalf of America.
As a senator, I've seen how working with Congress by the president makes a real difference, and the absence of presidential involvement leaves a vacuum.
Congress' role in deliberating on legislation may not always bring people together who do not agree, but it is essential that the process be recognized and respected.
And I have worked hard to hold this administration accountable, because, all too often, the president has failed to share information with the Congress, to be willing to recognize the checks and balances that have certainly been a blessing to our system of government for so many years.
So I will bring, both from my time in the White House and now my time in the Senate some critical lessons to the presidency.
First, I will restore faith in our government by restoring integrity to our government. For seven years, this administration has exhibited ideological disdain for government. And because they view government with contempt, they treat it with contempt. They don't believe government can or should be a force for the public interest, so they treat it as a source of favors for private interests.
As president, I will restore an old-fashioned idea -- appointing qualified people to positions in government again, and I will immediately begin implementing an agenda of reform to end no-bid contracts, to close the revolving door between public sector work and private sector lobbying, to restore fiscal responsibility, to modernize our government, and to open its books to greater scrutiny.
CLINTON: Second, I will restore openness in government. When I'm president, the era of Bush-Cheney secrecy will be over.
You know, on April 27th, 1961, President Kennedy addressed one of the predecessors of this organization, the American Newspaper Publishers Association. The failed invasion of Cuba, known as the Bay of Pigs, had taken place just one week before. President Kennedy spoke of the threat facing the United States. He wrestled publicly with the basic tension that exists whenever our security is threatened between the government's responsibility to keep some secrets and the public's right to know.
But he understood the importance of openness to the integrity and vitality of government -- even in the aftermath of his own failures. He said, "There is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions."
And so just days after an embarrassing failure, the president of the United States came before your predecessors, begged for scrutiny, and challenged the nation to mobilize without compromising democratic values.
That kind of open leadership has been sorely lacking these past seven years. In fact, the Bush administration has dramatically widened the definition of classified information to shield more and more material from public scrutiny. It has widened the scope of the state secrets privilege to shield its program from judicial review. And it has widened the reach of executive privilege to shield its activities from Congress.
And from warrantless wiretaps at home to secret prisons overseas, the Bush administration has conducted illegal activities and stonewalled efforts of the people and the Congress to discover them and to hold the administration accountable.
When I am president, I will empower the federal government to operate from a presumption of openness, not secrecy. That's why I am a co-sponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act. Allowing reporters to protect sources helps ensure that whistle blowers can blow the whistle and you can keep the public informed and keep officeholders accountable.
I will direct my administration to prevent needless classification of information that ought to be shared with the public. We will adopt a presumption of openness on Freedom of Information Act requests and urge agencies to release information quickly if disclosure will do no harm.
That was Attorney General Janet Reno's approach, and it will be my attorney general's approach, as well.
CLINTON: Third, because solving problems starts by recognizing facts, I will restored evidenced-based decision-making to our government. A free and open society depends upon on evidence-based inquiry.
Shortly after I arrived in the Senate, it became abundantly clear to me that the White House had very little interest in facts or evidence, and I started saying, in speeches on the floor and in other settings, that they wanted to turn Washington into an evidence-free zone.
And, unfortunately, they have succeeded all too well. And we will have to reverse that.
This administration has also waged a war on science, rewriting scientific reports, allowing politicians to overrule and silence government researchers, politicizing important decisions affecting our environment and our public health.
I will stop political appointees from manipulating the government's scientific conclusions and prevent the suppression of public statements by governments scientists and I will put in place new whistle-blower protections for scientists who step forward to protest political interference.
Our government will once again value and encourage scientific discovery and open inquiry and we will regain our place as the world's leading innovation nation.
Fourth, because government abuse is checked by the separation of powers, I will restore respect for our coequal branches of government.
I'll start by limiting the excessive executive powers this president has accumulated, like the unilateral power to wiretap or to detain and try people, even American citizens.
I will work with Congress again as a partner to solve problems. I'll end the use of signing statements to rewrite the laws that Congress has passed. I'll shut down Guantanamo, disavow torture and restore the right of habeas corpus.
CLINTON: And I'll end the practice of using executive privilege as a shield against the public's right to know and Congress' duty to oversee the president.
... I will make crystal clear that the president and the executive branch will comply with the laws of our nation. My Department of Justice will interpret those laws fairly, accurately, honestly and publicly.
We'll release Justice Department interpretations so that you know exactly what our understanding is and how laws are being executed. The president is not above the law in our system of government. And we need to make that absolutely clear starting next year.
These changes both represent and drive the transformation I believe is needed in our government starting on day one of my administration. I do not believe power is an end in itself, but a means; a means limited in scope of serving the interests and protecting the safety of our nation, while creating opportunity for our people.
But the question before us is deeper than how the next president will restore our government and our Constitution. The question is how the next president will employ our government.
I am here and I am running for president because I have seen the promise of America. And I do understand the promise of the presidency. And on day one, I will bring my hard-won experience, whatever strengths and knowledge I possess to fulfill that promise.
I will start by trying to leave up to the model described by Teddy Roosevelt: "All that in me lies to do will be done to make my work a success."
And I plan to hit the ground running, starting on day one and throughout my first 100 days.
During that time, I will call on Congress to send to my desk the bills this president vetoed from supporting stem cell research to expanding children's health care. And I will sign them. Allowing scientists to better explore the promise of new cures for disease; diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and so much else. And we will provide health insurance for millions more of our children as a downpayment for achieving health care for all Americans with no exceptions.
My administration will call together a meeting of mortgage lenders, banks, community organizations and regulators to negotiate an immediate freeze on foreclosures because so many Americans are hurting. And the projection is that more than 2 million American families will be foreclosed on this year.
I will call for a timeout on new trade agreements and review all existing trade agreements. And I will call on Canada and Mexico to work with me to re-negotiate NAFTA.
My budget to Congress will restore fiscal sanity while cutting taxes for middle-class families to the tune of $100 billion a year; ending tax breaks for oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies, Wall Street, and others to the tune of $55 billion a year.
I will work with Congress to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill.
My administration will convene a summit within 100 days to negotiate a new climate change treaty, to replace Kyoto, and one that includes China, India, and other rapidly developing and very big greenhouse gas-emitting nations.
I will work with the Congress to submit a comprehensive energy bill that will move us toward ending our dependence on foreign oil and increasing the percentage of renewable fuels we use to produce electricity.
CLINTON: I will overturn the global gag rule to allow nongovernmental organizations to practice free speech and to use other funding sources to provide women with access to the full range of reproductive health care around the world.
I will call a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and demand that the Pentagon draw up plans to begin withdrawing our troops from Iraq responsibly and carefully, starting within 60 days of my inauguration.
I will reach out to the rest of the world and ask distinguished Americans of both parties to be emissaries on our behalf, traveling across the globe, telling both governments and people that the United States is willing, once again, to work with you to try to find common ground on our problems, from global warming to global terrorism, to global epidemics.
I will sign executive orders ending the war on science, ordering the closure of Guantanamo, reversing many of the anti-labor provisions that President Bush adopted, and looking very clearly at we have to do to rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class in our country.
In short, starting from day one, the Bush-Cheney era will be over, in name and in practice.
Now, we are fortunate in our country that we get to overturn our government peacefully and thoroughly. The question is the path we select, at such an important juncture.
Now, I know this campaign has gone on a long time. But elections do end. And when the campaigns conclude and the banners are torn down and the speeches are finally finished, all that's left is the choice we have made.
We have seen the power of the presidency placed in hands unready or unwilling to address the tasks that lie ahead.
Just think of the days after September 11. Imagine if President Bush had tapped into the wellspring of American energy, initiative, and good will.
The president could have launched a Manhattan Project for renewable energy. The president could have called on our young people to serve in the Peace Cops or AmeriCorps, or help to start what I've advocated, a green corps.
CLINTON: The president could have said we need to reach out to the rest of the world, because clearly the world needs to be as committed to ending acts of horrific terrorism as we are.
The president could have responded to our health challenges by investing in public health here and around the world.
The president could have said we need to be smarter about how we engage with the rest of the world, so let us lead in trying to make education more universally available to the 77 million children who are shut out, including in countries like Pakistan, where too often the young boys are then turned over for indoctrination to the madrasas because there are no alternatives.
The president literally could have asked us to do anything -- calling on our patriotism and our unity. But he only asked us to draw on our wallets and go shopping.
We have also seen throughout our history the power of the presidency placed in hands ready to transform our nation for the better, to call upon those better angels of our nature, to summon the unique and wonderful spirit that sets America apart and carries us forward, constantly believing that tomorrow can be better than today.
We've overcome tyranny, we've ended the injustice of slavery, we've expanded civil rights and women's rights, we've endured and grown stronger through the Depression and World Wars, and yes, we have become a much better and fairer country for all that we have done on behalf of those who were initially left out of our Constitution or who lacked even the basic power to organize for themselves.
Throughout our history, we have achieved in this moments improbable and even impossible triumphs. And each time, we have rediscovered the boundless sources of American strength and character. That is what we must do again.
In a message to Congress and the citizens of America at the onset of the Civil War, President Lincoln called upon our nation to save itself. "It is a struggle," he said," for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government, whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life."
CLINTON: Those are the stakes. In your hands rests an awesome responsibility: to inform us and educate us, and to help us be committed to that race that lies ahead.
We must not turn away from the urgency of our times and the immediacy of the tasks before us. I know that we are fully up to it. I have no doubt.
No matter how daunting it may seem, there is no one who can count us out if we are willing and able to rise and meet the challenges and seize the opportunities before us. It would be a grave abdication of our birth right, of our history as Americans were we to do any less.
Thank you all very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator Clinton. Thank you very much.
Senator Clinton has graciously agreed to take some questions, and there are a number of microphones in the audience that will be travelling around. And, Senator, you're welcome to choose the questioner.
CLINTON: Oh, no, somebody else should do that. I'm sure people would think I had some ulterior motive.
And besides, I can't really -- we could just go back and forth, right?
CLINTON: Where are the microphones? There's one microphone there and where's the other microphone?
So you are the only microphone?
MODERATOR: No, there are several.
CLINTON: OK. So we'll just go back and forth, and we'll start right there.
QUESTION: Senator Clinton, in an interview today with Adam Smith, our political editor, you talked about the importance of counting the sentiment of Florida voters as the Democratic nominee is selected. And yet, last fall, you joined the boycott against campaigning in Florida along with all the other party leaders and candidates.
If the sentiment in Florida is so important now, why did you join that boycott then? And do you regret that decision?
CLINTON: Well, I think there are two different issues at work here. Those of us who were running agreed that we would not actively campaign in either Florida or Michigan -- and we did not, with a few exceptions, but I think it's fair to say we did not.
And I think that that was a decision that was, you know, driven by the reality that we have these four early states that people were focusing on at the time.
But that is not the same issue, because nothing I signed at all said what would happen with the votes once they were cast. All of us kept our names on the ballot in Florida. And, in fact, there were many different ways that the Democratic Party could have resolved this, and still can, that would respect the 1.7 million or more Floridians who came out and voted.
They certainly followed the campaign avidly from all of the national press coverage and the coverage that was available to them locally in papers like yours. And they expressed their opinions.
And the Republicans put Florida in a difficult position to start with, but they quickly resolved what to do with the delegates from the votes in Florida, and our party has not.
And I have called and will continue to call on the Democratic Party to make a decision that respects the votes of the people of Florida and gives those votes due consideration in seating the delegates that will go to the convention in Denver.
There are lots of ways this could be accomplished. The decision is really up to the Democratic National Committee.
CLINTON: And I hope that they will attempt to resolve this.
But I think it would be a grave mistake for the Democrats to disregard the highest turnout in primary history in Florida. Maybe the lesson here is we shouldn't campaign anywhere, just leave people alone and let them follow the campaign and make up their minds. But, whatever, they have expressed their views, they have had their vote certified by the Florida secretary of state, it's part of the popular vote that has been in this campaign.
And the only remaining question is, how will the Democratic Party fairly take into account what the voters of Florida said in trying to determine who the delegates are to go to the convention. And I think they should do that, and they should do it expeditiously.
QUESTION: Senator Clinton, over here.
CLINTON: Yes, sir?
QUESTION: I'm Chris Peck, editor of the Commercial-Appeal in Memphis, and you recently came to our city for the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. And in our majority African-American city, after you left, I think there was a question that many voters had about what role race should play in this election.
So could you talk to us a little bit about what role you believe race ought to play in this election?
CLINTON: Well, I think that there's been a lot of discussion in this campaign for very obvious reasons, given the fact that we have an African American and a woman running for the Democratic nomination.
And I think that what both Senator Obama and I have tried to convey in the election is that people should look at us as individuals, assess our qualifications, our readiness to serve as president, the plans we have put forth, our track record in actually delivering results for people.
And it's inescapable that race and gender, which has gotten, I must say, much less attention, are part of who we are. But we both wish to be judged on the sum of our parts, and that is our life experiences, our record in public service, and so much ease.
So I have certainly been hopeful that that would be the approach that the vast majority of voters take. And I'm aware people can vote for you or against you based on anything, and I'm sure that race and gender are taken into account by voters and evaluated with different scales and therefore resulting in different conclusions.
But I believe that what has been incredibly important about this campaign is that never again -- never, ever again will any child growing up in America think that an African American or a woman cannot be the president of the United States. And I think that is an incredible accomplishment.
QUESTION: Senator Clinton, there's been a lot of talk, in recent days, about the economic hardships suffered by working-class people in places like Pennsylvania and, I dare say, upstate New York.
Separately, you have been criticized for promises you made in your Senate campaign, about bringing a couple of hundred thousand jobs to upstate New York.
And you have admitted, in hindsight, that you may have been -- quoting -- "a little exuberant" with those numbers.
More realistically, then, how would you improve the economic conditions of suffering Americans?
CLINTON: Well, you know, Margaret, when I was campaigning for the Senate in 2000, I had every hope that Al Gore would be the president, and that we would build on the economic successes of the 90s, taking into account business cycles, the need for adjustments, and everything that obviously happens in an economy over time.
If you remember, we had a balanced budget, a projected surplus of $5.6 trillion. We had seen, in the previous eight years, the creation of 22.7 million jobs, and more people lifted out of poverty than at any time.
And we were just beginning to really implement and see the results from some of the innovative economic approaches, like empowerment zones and new market tax credits and the like.
And I was exuberant because I really believed we could create a lot more jobs. Because I had thought, in particular, upstate New York hadn't had the opportunity to take advantage of some of the benefits, and be creative about how to do just that.
Well, that didn't come to pass. And, unfortunately, much of the positive economic policies that we saw in the 90s were slowly, steadily dismantled.
And we all know that we went from that $5.6 trillion projected surplus to now having the largest deficit we've ever had, at $311 billion, and a $9 trillion debt an increasing dependence not only on foreign oil, but on foreign money.
CLINTON: So we have essentially undermined our capacity to do some of what I think would have worked and which I hope to get back to if I'm fortunate enough to be the president.
So there are a number of approaches here. Number one, we must do more to ensure that there's nothing in our tax code that actually advantages companies that move jobs overseas. I mean it sounds almost absurd to say this, but there still are. And those provisions should be excised.
It is hard to explain to somebody who's lost their job in Buffalo, New York or Erie, Pennsylvania, why that job has been moved somewhere else and the people who moved it actually get a tax benefit because they get to defer paying taxes on their profits as long as they don't re-patriot them. Anything that gives an advantage with our tax money, has to be removed from the tax code, number one.
Number two, it seems to me that we've got to get back to rewarding work instead of wealth. And the feeling amongst so many hard working Americans is that the deck is kind of stacked against them. That they, you know, are working harder than ever but under President Bush, they've lost $1,000 on average in income. Prior eight years, the typical American family had a $7,000 increase in income. So this is just not adding up for people.
That's why I have said I will let the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year expire, go back to the 90s' tax rates. And I have put forth a very comprehensive agenda for $100 billion in middle class tax cuts to help people, kind of, restart their own engines paying for health care, saving for retirement, more affordable college, and so much else.
I also think we've got to start investing as a nation in creating new jobs. And here are three examples that I have talked about on the campaign trail.
CLINTON: Number one, I have proposed a strategic energy fund that would invest -- similar to a Manhattan Project idea -- in energy technologies, new renewable energies, really unleash the innovative genius of America.
I would fund that by taking the oil subsidies away from them -- the tax subsidies that go to oil companies.
You know, sometimes when I talk about the government investing in clean, renewable energy, someone will say sometimes in an editorial board, "But then the United States is picking winners and losers. The government has some kind of a policy or a plan."
But we already do. We subsidize oil companies, we subsidize the nuclear industry, we subsidize pharmaceuticals in the Medicare Part D program, we subsidize health insurance companies in the Medicare program. We subsidize a lot of industries.
So, choices have already been made, but we're making the wrong choices. We're stuck in 20th century choices instead of 21st century choices.
So that's why I want to invest in clean, renewable energy, and I believe we can put at least five million people to work. And we can do that, Margaret, in western New York.
I have advocated for 10 demonstration projects to figure out how we're going to do carbon sequestration and storage. We've got to figure out how to make coal cleaner. We can't turn our backs immediately on coal; we get 52 percent of our electricity from it.
Think how much further down the road we'd be in trying to figure out how we do this. But we can't get this administration to make that investment.
There is a power plant outside of Buffalo in a place called Tonawanda that is desperate to turn into using this kind of technology, to figure out how to make it work.
They would put several thousand people to work, both in the construction and then at the plant, but they can't do it without some government help.
Just like we've subsidized oil to go explore and extract and all the rest, we need to be doing this for different forms of energy. Secondly, we've got to invest in our infrastructure and rebuild America. We've seen the examples from the bridge collapsing in Minneapolis, the levies collapsing in New Orleans. We need a construction project that will put at least three million people to work, fixing our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our water systems, our mass transit.
We are falling behind other nations, and it's not only in our physical infrastructure. We are now probably 24th in the world in broadband, high-speed Internet access. We used to be number one and now we're 24, 25.
And finally, as I referenced in my remarks, I think ending George Bush's war on science will unleash creativity and new jobs. We've seen some of that beginning in Buffalo with our investment in bioinformatics, but we've got to do even more.
CLINTON: And going along with all of this has to be a commitment to education and training. And I would start in preschool. I know that's a long-term solution, but if we don't do it, we're never going to catch up. It's the best way to close the achievement gap between white and minority youngsters and it will help better prepare kids.
And we've got to get back to more technical training and apprenticeship and skills programs.
You know, a few years ago, the auto dealers from New York came to see me. And they were distraught. They said we have openings right now across New York for 600 auto mechanics. Nobody's training them anymore. We've shut down all those programs. We have this attitude that we want everybody to go to college.
Well, that's very nice. But the fact is, 60 percent of our kids will not go to and graduate from college. And we're doing so little for them right now.
So the auto dealers said, "We've given up. We can't figure out where we're going to get this supply. And these are good jobs, but people have to have basic math skills and so much else."
So they decided to open up their own school.
And what I've seen are businesses and labor unions and others coming together with community colleges across America to try to do this, but we're not doing it on a broad enough scale.
So I actually believe we could get once again to a very focused approach toward job creation, unleashing our economy, cutting back on this attitude that we've seen in the last seven years that, you know, we really can't do very much. We just have to leave it to the marketplace.
And the final thing I would say about that is we now are spending about $500 billion on defense spending. And under this administration, we have steadily exported and outsourced a lot of our defense jobs. And I think that's a mistake.
I was just in Indiana with Senator Evan Bayh who's one of my supporters there. And we spent a whole day going to defense plants in Indiana. And in every single one of them, they told us about a near- miss -- a near-miss and then one fatality. The two near-misses were that this Pentagon keeps saying, "Well, we're going to outsource this particular production; we're going to not do it in Indiana, we're going to do it somewhere else."
The really tragic story was about a company named Magnaquench. It employed, I don't know, a couple hundred people in Valparaiso, Indiana. And it made magnets that were essential to the guidance of smart bombs, precision-guided missiles that you've seen go down chimneys.
CLINTON: And the company was bought by a Chinese company. And they wanted to move production, which would not only mean losing the jobs but losing the intellectual property. And the Bush administration did nothing.
So we no longer manufacture the magnets that we need to buy for precision-guided missiles. So we've lost the jobs, and there is no doubt that the Chinese know exactly how to do what we once did pretty well.
There's a big fight, right now, going on. Senator McCain and President Bush are on one side. Senator Bayh is leading the fight, and I'm with him, on the other side, to prevent a change in the law that would end the need for us to get specialty metals from the United States, titanium and others, that are essential to defense production.
So this question about jobs is not only about economic trends. It's about choices, choices we make or fail to make. And I think we need a president, again, who makes the right choices to grow and keep good jobs and give people a chance at rising incomes again in our country.
QUESTION: A few days ago, there was an explosion in a mosque in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran. And the Iranians now say that that was caused by old ammunition that somehow exploded and killed 12 people and wounded over 200.
But at first, there was a suggestion that it was a British covert operation plot.
And I wondered, if the Iranians continue to support and direct covert operations against the Maliki government in Iraq, would you, as president, authorize similar covert operations inside Iran?
CLINTON: Well, that's a very interesting question on a number of levels. We don't know what actually happened in that mosque in southern Iran. But there is certainly enough credible evidence, going back several years, to know that mosques have been used as staging grounds and storage depots for weapons and for fighters to infiltrate into Iran to be part of the Revolutionary Guard, particularly the Quds Force efforts to support elements within Iran against American soldiers, as well as against the Iraqi army and others with whom they chose to contest.
So it's very clear that there is something that went on there.
CLINTON: Now, you know, I've took a lot of criticism during this campaign from my opponent because I voted for a bill to label the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. And I did, because it is. And there isn't any doubt that it is. And that it has consistently supported all kinds of fighters within Iraq who have killed Americans.
They have trained people how to make the explosively formed penetrators that are so lethal to our troops. And they have provided a lot of technical assistance and there isn't much doubt in my mind that they were deeply involved in some capacity in what's been going on in Basra.
And, you know, because I voted that way to say, "Look, we have to focus on the threat posed by the Revolutionary Guard," which is the arm of the clerical leadership and which does export terrorism, you know, not just to Iraq, but we believe was behind the bombing of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, behind actions in other parts of the Middle East and the Gulf including, probably, Kobart Towers where we lost American service members and many other sightings.
That doesn't mean we also should be engaged in diplomacy. In fact, I think going after the Revolutionary Guard and labelling them a terrorist organization actually gives us a stronger hand at the diplomatic table, we just can't get this administration to get to that table where we would use both carrots and sticks to see whether it is at al possible to influence the behavior of the Iranians in their multiply divided decision making.
And I think that, without saying anything out of school, I'm sure that there are many covert actions going on that are under weighed, and protect, and defend the Maliki government, as well as our American forces and civilian interests inside Iraq.
But I have to just emphasize that from my perspective, the approach that the Bush Administration has taken towards Iran has been a loser. It has neither changed behaviors, nor produced results, nor put us on a path where we could see any possibility of changing or influencing behavior so that we could then have a better sense of what our real options might be down the road. And its part of a string of foreign policy actions that are, at best, incoherent and inconsistent.
CLINTON: If anybody can tell me what our policy is toward China, I would love to hear it; if you can tell us what our real is toward Russia, if you can explain why we walked away from the Middle East for years and took actions like forcing an election on them that included Hamas and led to a much worse outcome that many of us were worried about to start with.
You go around the world and, whether by design or inadvertence or just unintended consequences, we have so many difficult problems awaiting us.
And Iran is at the top of the list. And I think that we have to have a much smart approach, and I've advocated both that carrot and that stick, and I think that would be what I would take to try to create, beginning at lower levels of diplomatic engagement, some ongoing process.
Because ultimately, if we do feel that Iran is moving in a way that, for example, will result in nuclear weapons -- you know, they had a big announcement this week that they've added thousands of more centrifuges at Natanz -- if we believe that's happening, the world has to have seen us attempting some kind of diplomatic effort before we were to say we would escalate our relationship with them. And that has not happened.
So it's a very, you know, it's a very intriguing question, but it has layers of meaning as to what we're going to be doing and how we're going to do it, and I just wish that we would start seeing some more coherent, effective policy besides saber rattling out of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
MODERATOR: Senator, thank you very much for your kind words this afternoon.