MANCHESTER — Just as Hillary Clinton was preparing to close out a surefooted performance at the CNN Town Hall in New Hampshire, she got a question about those paid speeches to Wall Street firms.
"Was that a bad error in judgement?" moderator Anderson Cooper asked. "Did you have to be paid $675,000?"
Clinton had earlier in the night been reflective and measured in response to other tough questions. On this answer, she casually batted the inference aside.
"Well, I don't know, that's what they offered, so..." Clinton said after noting that she made speeches to "lots of groups."
"Every secretary of state that I know has done that."
Copper noted that those people weren't running for political office after leaving their post at the State Department, as she eventually did.
"To be honest, I wasn't committed to running," Clinton replied.
Clinton seems to have continuously struggled to find a good response to questions about her paid speeches to Wall Street firms, which is the bedrock of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's argument against her candidacy. It is also the core of his appeal to Democratic voters who believe income inequality is a central issue in this campaign.
This was no exception. Clinton implied that Wall Street firms are not given her "very much money now," even though campaign finance reports show the has netted millions from the financial industry.
"Anybody who knows me who thinks they can influence me, name one thing they've influenced me on," Clinton said. "Just name one thing. I'm out here every day saying I'm going to shut them down, I'm going after them."
Earlier in the night, Sanders made a counter argument, centering his case that Clinton was insufficiently progressive on her history with Wall Street firms.
"I do not know any progressive that has a Super Pac and takes $15 million from Wall Street," Sanders said. "That’s just not progressive."