'Factor' Debut: Hillary Clinton sits down with Bill O'Reilly for first time
This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Earlier this week we got a call that Senator Clinton would be available in South Bend, Indiana, this morning. So we flew out last night, and we spent about an hour with her in the a.m. The interview will be in four parts over two days. Thursday, we'll take a look at illegal immigration, the War on Terror and foreign policy. Tonight, we'll look at what's happening in America right now and the campaign. Roll the tape.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Senator, first of all, thank you for talking to us.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm happy to talk to you, Bill.
O'REILLY: Are you really? So few people are.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I ended up thinking that, you know, I had to try to help you out here.
O'REILLY: And I need all the help I can get. And also, we're in the land of the Fighting Irish.
CLINTON: Well, I'm a fighter. So, you know, we've got something in common there.
O'REILLY: And I'm Irish, so we've got that thing going on. All right.
O'REILLY: Can you believe this Reverend Wright guy? Can you believe this guy?
CLINTON: Well, you know...
O'REILLY: What do you think?
CLINTON: Well, I'm going to leave it up to voters to decide, you know.
O'REILLY: No, but what do you think as an American? You're an American.
CLINTON: Well, what I said when I was asked directly is that I would not have stayed in that church.
O'REILLY: No, no, no, no. But you're an American citizen. I'm an American citizen. He's an American citizen, Reverend Wright. What do you think when you hear a fellow American citizen say that stuff about America? What do you think?
CLINTON: Well, I take offense at it. I think it's offensive and outrageous. And, you know, I'm going to express my opinion. Others can express theirs. But, you know, it is part of, you know, just an atmosphere that we're in today where all kinds of things are being said. And people have to, you know, decide what they believe. And I sure don't believe the United States government was behind AIDS.
O'REILLY: Now, when I see people jumping up and applauding when he says that, and other things — we're the moral equivalent of Al Qaeda — when I see my fellow citizens, I don't care what color they are, jump up and applaud that, that disturbs me.
CLINTON: Well, Bill, this is part of the mosaic and diversity of America. And obviously, on opinions like that...
O'REILLY: That's hateful.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I happen to think that is just totally off base. It's, you know, so far out it's hard to even understand and take seriously. But what people are talking to me about is not that, I've got to tell you. What I hear is what's happening in their lives. I mean...
O'REILLY: No, I know that.
CLINTON: ...let somebody else worry about, you know, taking on whatever someone said.
O'REILLY: But trust me on this.
CLINTON: But you know...
O'REILLY: ...television ratings for Reverend Wright, through the roof.
O'REILLY: Folks are engaged here.
CLINTON: Well, I think though they're making up their minds. They're weighing it.
CLINTON: They're trying to figure it out. But I think for the presidential campaign, they want to know more about what I'm going to do about gas prices, to be blunt. You know…
O'REILLY: But look, I feel sorry for Barack Obama on this one, all right? I feel sorry for him. His whole campaign has been derailed by some loony guy. Isn't that amazing?
CLINTON: Well, he spoke out forcefully yesterday. And...
O'REILLY: Do you feel sorry for Obama?
CLINTON: Well, I think that he made his views clear finally that he disagrees. And I think that's what he had to do.
O'REILLY: OK. Oil prices. Now, you want us to suspend the federal gas tax. So does John McCain. Obama doesn't. But when I hear that, I say, it's the same old politician stuff, because the Democratic Party was opposed, is opposed to ANWR drilling. You voted against nuclear energy seven times. And I'm saying to myself, both parties, both parties have sold the folks out on energy. And now the folks are getting hammered and they should be angry at both parties. Where am I going wrong?
CLINTON: Well, here's what I think. I think there's plenty of blame to go around. We have not done what we should have done...
O'REILLY: Even for you?
CLINTON: ...for more — oh, for all of us, for everybody.
O'REILLY: OK. So you're taking some blame.
CLINTON: But consumers, drivers, political officials, the oil companies, you name it. We're not acting like Americans, Bill. We're not in charge. And I want to put us back in charge, and that's going to...
O'REILLY: OK, so you're going to change your votes on drilling and nukes?
CLINTON: Well, here's what I'm going to do, and I've said this very clearly. In the short term, I do want a gas tax holiday, but to pay for it by putting a windfall profits tax on the oil companies.
O'REILLY: What's that mean though?
CLINTON: Well, here's what...
O'REILLY: What does that mean?
CLINTON: Now look, what it means is that the oil companies have made out like bandits. You know that.
O'REILLY: Right. Record profits.
CLINTON: We all know that, right?
CLINTON: And there is no basis for them to have these huge profits. They're not inventing anything new.
O'REILLY: So, but what do you do? Take 20 percent of their profits away from them?
CLINTON: You set a baseline, and above that baseline you begin to tax their profits.
O'REILLY: So Congress has got to say yes to this.
CLINTON: Congress has got to say yes. Now, I know that's an uphill climb.
O'REILLY: You bet.
CLINTON: But I'm trying to lay the groundwork so that when I'm president we can get in there and say this has been going on way too long. I also want to take on OPEC. You know, OPEC is a cartel, it's a monopoly.
O'REILLY: You want to take them on?
O'REILLY: They don't care what you say.
O'REILLY: They're in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
CLINTON: Nine of the 13 biggest oil-producing countries that are in OPEC are also members of the WTO. I would file complaints. I would also change the law so that citizens and businesses could file anti-trust actions. We're going to begin to hold them accountable.
O'REILLY: And then if you hold them accountable, they'll say we'll slap another $20 on the price of oil, so there.
CLINTON: Well, see, but at the same time, we're not going to be sitting idly by acting, you know, like we can just get away with this. We've got to change the way we behave, the way we drive. We have not paid attention for more than 35 years as to what's been happening to us.
O'REILLY: All right. And I'm with you 100 percent.
CLINTON: Good. Good.
O'REILLY: Your husband was president for eight years, and Al Gore, Mr. Global Warming, was vice president for eight years, and they didn't do bupkis about this.
CLINTON: Can I say that we got an elected president who's a fighter, who's going to take on the oil companies, going to take on the oil companies, and is going to say to Americans, you know, we've got to be really focused on how we're going to...
O'REILLY: All right. As long as you understand that I'm angry and so is everybody watching here, because both parties sold us out.
You know you're going to bankrupt the country with "Hill Care," right? The health care program. You're going to...
CLINTON: Oh, no, I'm not.
O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
CLINTON: No, I'm not.
O'REILLY: You're going to bankrupt the country.
CLINTON: No, I'm not. That is not true.
O'REILLY: Look, California — California, OK...
O'REILLY: ...$20 billion deficit. Our home state, you and I...
O'REILLY: We both live in New York.
O'REILLY: $5 billion deficit, OK? The biggest expenditure in both California and New York? Medicaid, Medical. Fraud, between 10 and 20 percent. So you're going to tell me President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, is going to, A, run this efficiently and B, not bankrupt the country, when California and New York are already bankrupt? How are you going to do that? Moses going to come down?
CLINTON: Well, he could help. Don't you think?
O'REILLY: Yes, that's who you're going to need.
CLINTON: On those tablets, here's what's going to be written: If we don't get to universal health care, we will continue to bleed money. If we don't have more accountability, like through electronic medical records, we will never catch up to the fraud. If we don't make a decision right now that we're actually going to protect what is best about the American health care system, we won't recognize it in 10 or 20 years.
So here's what I say: Everybody who has health insurance who's happy with it, you keep it. No changes. But what I am going to do is take an already existing plan — it's not government-run, it's not a new bureaucracy. It's the way Congress and federal employees get their health care. And we're going to open it up to every American, because I think it's about time...
O'REILLY: But you're going to subsidize it.
CLINTON: Well, we are. But here's why. You already are subsidizing it. Your family policy has a $900 hidden tax. Why? Because when some poor person who doesn't have health insurance...
O'REILLY: Goes to the emergency room...
CLINTON: That's right.
O'REILLY: ...you've got to pick it up.
CLINTON: You pick it up.
O'REILLY: And I don't mind doing it.
CLINTON: Well, but we're going to get the costs down for everybody, because people should pay something if they can afford to pay it. So under my plan, we're going to tell the insurance companies, no more discrimination, you've got to take care of people with pre-existing conditions. We're going to regulate them differently. And we're going to give them a different business model.
O'REILLY: All right. It's a complicated issue, and I don't think you can do it.
CLINTON: But you know, Bill, it's a moral issue.
O'REILLY: It is and it isn't.
CLINTON: It is a moral issue. Oh, no, it is.
O'REILLY: I mean, there's a self-reliance that has to kick in, you know?
CLINTON: That's right. There is a self-reliance. But...
O'REILLY: I mean, I don't want to be paying for someone who's taking heroin and drinking a bottle of gin a day.
CLINTON: But I assume you want to pay for some hardworking family whose kid has juvenile diabetes.
O'REILLY: I do.
CLINTON: Or some woman...
O'REILLY: I don't mind doing it.
CLINTON: ...that just gets diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
O'REILLY: I think there should be safety nets, but I don't know if you're going to be able to do this.
CLINTON: There — well, but if we don't do it, we'll meet here again in five or 10 years. We'll have more uninsured people. The prices will have continued to go up, because we will not have put into place the safeguards and the accountability that our health care system needs.
O'REILLY: All right.
O'REILLY: In a moment, we'll continue our conversation with Senator Clinton. We'll zero in on whether she believes she herself is a polarizing personality and some of the unfair treatment she's gotten from liberal news outlets. Right back with it.
O'REILLY: Continuing now with our lead story, Senator Hillary Clinton enters the No Spin Zone. I spoke with her this morning in South Bend, Indiana. And the conversation quickly became personal.
O'REILLY: You know, your husband and I make a lot of money. Did you know that?
CLINTON: I've heard that.
O'REILLY: Yes, we make a lot of money. And you, if you're president, are going to take more of my money and your husband's money away. Away. OK, now I'm paying 33 percent fed tax now. You're going to raise that to what?
CLINTON: I'm going up to what we had in the 1990s...
O'REILLY: 39.5, all right.
CLINTON: ...36, 39. People...
O'REILLY: All right. So I'm getting a 6.5 percent bump, and so is Bill Clinton.
CLINTON: Well, it's only for the people making more than $250,000.
O'REILLY: No, that's me. That's me. You're talking to him.
CLINTON: I know.
O'REILLY: OK. All right. All right.
CLINTON: And I am very happy...
O'REILLY: So 6.5 percent…
CLINTON: ...that you're going to pay more...
O'REILLY: I know you are.
CLINTON: ...so that we can cut middle-class taxes...
CLINTON: ....on people who get up every day...
O'REILLY: I'm a generous guy.
CLINTON: ...and do hard work to keep our country going.
O'REILLY: But before I vote for you, I want to know exactly how much you're going to take out of my wallet, all right?
CLINTON: I'm going to take...
O'REILLY: So you got 6.5...
CLINTON: ...as much as you were paying in the '90s. And as I recall, you did pretty well in the '90s.
O'REILLY: 6.5, OK. Now, payroll tax, you're going to knock that out?
CLINTON: I have not made any commitment on what we're going to do on Social Security.
O'REILLY: Well, why? You're going to run for president. Are you going to do it or not?
CLINTON: Well, because here's why. I learned a lesson from Ronald Reagan. In 1980, when he was elected, our Social Security system was in a mess. The Democrats weren't agreeing and a lot of the Republicans were nervous. So Speaker Tip O'Neill, another great American politician, the two of them, the two Irishmen, got together and said, let's have a commission, because the only way we're going to fix this is if everybody said, hey, we've got to make some changes. I am not going to raise the payroll tax on people who are already paying more than their share.
O'REILLY: But I could pay it on every nickel I make.
CLINTON: No. I am not in favor...
O'REILLY: So that would be another 8 going on to 6.5. That's 14.
CLINTON: I am not in favor of lifting the cap. That's Senator Obama.
O'REILLY: Oh, you're not?
CLINTON: I am not in favor of lifting the cap.
O'REILLY: OK. So you're going to keep it $109,000?
CLINTON: We're going to see what happens here.
O'REILLY: All right.
CLINTON: We're going to — but...
O'REILLY: So you're kind of waffling here, right?
CLINTON: No, I'm not waffling. I'm saying I'm not going to impose additional burdens on middle-class families. And there are a lot of people...
O'REILLY: But I'm not a middle-class family. I'm a rich guy.
CLINTON: Well, and you know what? Rich people, God bless us. We deserve all the opportunities...
O'REILLY: All right.
CLINTON: ...to make sure our country and our blessings continue to the next generation.
O'REILLY: I'm going to assume — because I'm a saver and I'm prudent — I'm assuming that I'm going to get a 14 percent hit.
CLINTON: Don't assume that. You can't assume that from me.
O'REILLY: All right. Now...
CLINTON: I've not said anything like that.
O'REILLY: OK. You're going to raise taxes on the wealthy, and that's income redistribution. You know what that is. And income redistribution is why some conservatives don't like you, all right? It's because you take from the wealthy and you give to the less affluent. That's socialism. That has a socialist component.
CLINTON: No it isn't.
O'REILLY: Sure it is.
CLINTON: Teddy Roosevelt — was Teddy Roosevelt a socialist?
CLINTON: Oh, I think that Teddy Roosevelt was a great American...
O'REILLY: So do I.
CLINTON: ...who understood that our country works better when we're all in it together. Now...
O'REILLY: But you're taking and giving. Robin Hood, taking and giving.
CLINTON: ...90 percent of the benefits of income in the last decade have gone to people like us. Income distribution was much broadly dispersed. You were growing up on Long Island. I was growing up outside of Chicago. You know, my dad got up every day. He was a small business man. He worked his head off, but he didn't feel like the deck was stacked against him.
CLINTON: He thought, OK, I'm going to be treated fairly if I do my part.
O'REILLY: Here's where you're wrong. In my neighborhood, Levittown, there was no income distribution at all. There was earning money.
CLINTON: That's right.
O'REILLY: And you kept most of it because taxes were really low.
CLINTON: That is not true. That is not...
CLINTON: Look at the tax rates in the '40s, the '50s and the '60s. You know...
O'REILLY: For the wealthy they were high, but not for my dad.
CLINTON: Well, so why don't we go back to what we had in the '50s and the '60s then? Go back to 70 percent...
O'REILLY: Because there were no wealthy people then.
CLINTON: Well, when...
O'REILLY: There were very, very few.
CLINTON: ...when President Kennedy made that dramatic announcement he was going to cut the top rate from 90 percent to 70 percent, people stood up and cheered. All I want to do is get back to what worked in the '90s.
CLINTON: In the '90s, we had one of the strongest, fairest economies we've ever had. Yes, did people like you and me pay a little bit more? We sure did. But so did everybody else benefit, because middle-class taxes stayed pretty even.
O'REILLY: We had a pretty good economy under Bush in the last — except for the last year.
CLINTON: No. We've had a really — you know, in the last seven years, the typical American family has lost $1,000 in income. Their energy costs have gone up $2,000. The average tax cut that they got out of whatever he was doing was $600. People are net losers under the Bush economy. They were net winners under the Clinton economy.
O'REILLY: All right.
CLINTON: We're going to bring back a good, positive economy for the vast majority of Americans.
O'REILLY: I'm going to let you go on that because I want to get on to other stuff, but I think that's debatable.
CLINTON: We could go on all day.
O'REILLY: Yes, we could. You could.
OK. Now look, some people say there's not a big difference between you and Barack Obama, overall philosophy, overall outlook. It's a Democratic liberal line. He's more liberal than you, but it's the same thing. And it's a personality run, which is why before Reverend Wright derailed him, Barack Obama had some momentum because you're a more polarizing personality than he is. Would you agree with that?
CLINTON: Well, I...
O'REILLY: He's perceived as a nicer guy?
CLINTON: Well, I've been around a long time. You know, I bear a lot of the scars...
CLINTON: ...of the ideological and the political battles. I stand up for what I believe in. I believe, for example, universal health care is something we have to achieve in this country.
O'REILLY: So does he.
CLINTON: So — no he doesn't, actually. His plan is not a universal health care plan.
O'REILLY: No, but it's the same thing.
CLINTON: But no, but my point is I've been doing that for 15 years. So the people who disagree with me, you know, it's fair.
O'REILLY: But you...
CLINTON: This is the way our system is. They take shots at me. You know when I started running in New York people didn't think I could win. And then I came back and won with 67 percent of the vote.
O'REILLY: Look, you've done...
CLINTON: And the reason is...
O'REILLY: ...in New York.
CLINTON: ...because I reached across party lines. I'm the one with the record of bipartisanship.
O'REILLY: But you're a more polarizing personality. You're like I am. And I hate to say that, with all due, but you are. And Obama's such a nice guy. And that's what this is all about.
CLINTON: No. I happen to think if you want to take on the health insurance companies, the drug companies...
O'REILLY: You got to be tough.
CLINTON: ...the oil companies, you've got to be tough.
O'REILLY: I've got to ask you this.
CLINTON: And we've got to have a president who's a fighter again.
O'REILLY: All right.
CLINTON: Now will that create, you know, some folks who are a little upset? Yes. But if we don't get back to fighting for the American people, we're not going to recognize our country.
O'REILLY: All right. But I'm just trying to tell you that it's a personality contest, a lot of this. That's what it is.
Now, in New York you said you were going to improve upstate New York.
O'REILLY: And you didn't. And the economy's worse than it was before you took over eight years ago. And you blamed it on Bush. Just for the record, you've done some good things. I live in the state. But New York, New Yorkers, highest tax in the union.
Now, final question. Are you surprised — and you've got to tell me the truth here. You're looking me in the eye, so I'm going to believe you. Are you surprised that FOX News has been fairer to you than NBC News and a lot of the other liberal news networks? Are you surprised?
CLINTON: I wouldn't expect anything less than a fair and balanced coverage of my campaign.
O'REILLY: Now, I know you're being a little — but really, aren't you surprised?
CLINTON: Well, I have — you know, look, I am not a pundit or a commentator. I will leave that to you.
O'REILLY: But they hammer you every single night.
CLINTON: You know, that comes with the territory.
O'REILLY: I know, but aren't you surprised?
CLINTON: This is — I'm running for the toughest job in the world. And it goes with the territory.
O'REILLY: So you're not going to tell me whether you're surprised.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think a lot of people know that it's a campaign of firsts. I'm sitting down today, another first in this campaign.
O'REILLY: And isn't this fun so far?
CLINTON: Oh, I've been having a good time, except I want to correct the record on New York, because we do have to make some big changes in New York, changes that I've advocated. And I hope we'll finally get around to doing it. Look, we've got business to do in this country.
O'REILLY: All right. Thursday, as mentioned, we'll talk about the War on Terror, including water-boarding in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I think you'll find it very interesting.
Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2008 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.