WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, took several jabs at President Bush on Sunday while at the same time suggesting that she was working to move America beyond partisanship and toward the center.
Clinton, appearing on "FOX News Sunday," the same show where exactly one year earlier her husband accused host Chris Wallace of a "conservative hit job" on him, an amused Clinton elicited a hearty laugh when asked to respond to charges that she is "hyper-partisan."
"Well, Chris, if you had walked even a day in our shoes over the last 15 years, I'm sure you'd understand. But you know, the real goal for our country right now is to get beyond partisanship, and I'm sure trying to do my part, because we've got a lot of serious problems that we're trying to deal with," she said.
The New York senator then went on to say that she wants to discuss the substance of issues —like her latest health care plan — rather than just attack the other candidates.
"I think people are ready to start acting like Americans again. They want to roll up their sleeves. They want to tackle these tough problems, and I believe we can. And I'm confident and optimistic that we can make progress together again starting January 20th, 2009," she said.
She also noted that during her re-election in 2006, she won over a lot of the same voters who re-elected Bush in 2004 because she was able to find common ground with Republicans and independents.
"You know, I'm not intimidated by all of the efforts to try to undermine what I think is right for the country or to come after me or Democrats personally, because I think we need to try to get back to the center," she said.
But Clinton voted against a Republican amendment to the defense authorization bill in the Senate last week in effect denouncing the MoveOn.org ad that characterized Gen. David Petraeus as a traitor to this country. Clinton did vote for a Democratic resolution that condemned all political attacks on servicemen and women.
Clinton said she's been vocal in her support for Petraeus, and criticized individuals and groups that have attacked Democratic politicians like Sen. John Kerry and former Sen. Max Cleland, who fought in Vietnam. She added that the issue raised in the ad is one of a "broader context."
"This is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about how we end the war in Iraq," she said. "You know, others want a debate about an ad because they don't have a strategy or a policy to begin to extricate us from Iraq."
Clinton said she will not vote for more funding for the Iraq mission unless it is accompanied by a withdrawal plan. Bush has indicated he will send to Congress an emergency spending request of $200 billion to cover the costs of the war in Iraq.
Clinton also criticized Bush for fiscal irresponsibility, and explained that she would pay for her health care plan by rolling back the president's tax cuts from earlier this decade and saving money by updating the way medical records are stored and sent, an idea that she noted came in discussions with Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Clinton said her program is not a government industry, and would share responsibility with health care providers and drug makers to help make insurance "affordable."
"The American health choices plan does not create any new bureaucracy. It is not government-run health care. If you are satisfied with your health care, you keep it, no questions asked," she said.
Gingrich, who followed Clinton, said he agreed that a lot of money could be saved by clearing up the inefficiencies associated with medical records, but said he thinks her "delivery system is probably wrong."
"She's very disingenuous about the government part. This is a big government, high-tax, bureaucratic plan. It's much better than Hillary care of 1993, but it is nonetheless, in the end, a big government plan," he said.
As to the visit this week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Clinton said it was up to Columbia University whether or not he should speak, but she is glad he will not be going to Ground Zero.
FOX News' Molly Henneberg and Corbett Riner contributed to this report.