LACONIA, N.H. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday defended a controversial Senate vote on a bankruptcy bill disparaged by progressives in her party, suggesting her support in 2001 came at the suggestion of then-Sen. Joe Biden, who is now a potential challenger for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton’s vote, which dogged her during her 2008 presidential run, came up during a stop at a diner here, in the nation’s first primary state. A woman asked Clinton about a bankruptcy vote from 2009, but Clinton said she was likely referring to legislation from 2001 when she was a senator representing New York.
The legislation, pushed by credit card and banking interests, would have made it more difficult for people to get relief from debts through bankruptcy. Clinton noted that she had opposed a similar proposal during her tenure as first lady.
“When I got to the Senate, I wanted to see some changes so that alimony and child support would be protected, and so I negotiated those changes and then the people who had been handling the bill said, ‘Well, if we take your changes, you have to support it,’” Clinton said. “That’s the way the Senate works.
“And so I said ‘It’s really important to me that we don’t hurt women and children, so I will support it even though there are other things I don’t like in it,’” Clinton continued. “And it was Vice President Biden, who was the senator from Delaware, and the Republican co-sponsor that I was talking with, so I said I’d support it even though I’d opposed it before.”
During the 2008 presidential primaries, then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) repeatedly seized on Clinton’s vote, saying at one point that the bill, which failed, “put the interests of those banks and financial institutions ahead of the interests of the American people.”
Biden is expected to announce in coming months whether he will join a Democratic field that includes Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), who has been leading in recent polls out of New Hampshire, where Clinton is amid a three-day swing.
Following her diner stop here on Friday, Clinton hosted a community forum on substance abuse where she touted a recently unveiled $10 billion initiative to treat addiction. Among those who joined her were the governor of Sanders’s home state, Peter Shumlin.
Shumlin, who had previously endorsed Clinton, praised her for taking on an issue that does not necessarily earn her political points.
Later Thursday, Clinton held a town meeting in Concord, where she spoke derisively of threats by some congressional Republicans to shut down the federal government over the issue of funding of Planned Parenthood, the woman’s health organization with services including abortion.
“Shutting down the government is something no one else in the world really understands,” Clinton said.
In response to a question, Clinton said she plans to announce a position "soon" on where she stands on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project the left wing of her party strongly opposes. She previously had said it wouldn't be appropriate to take a position while it is still under consideration by the Obama administration since she played a role in initial deliberations.
Two of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, have both come out against the pipeline, citing environmental concerns, among others.