Transcript: Hillary Clinton on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Sept. 23, 2007, edition of "FOX New Sunday With Chris Wallace":

FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Today we continue our series "Choosing the President" with the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, who joins us from her home in Chappaqua, New York.

And, Senator, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

H. CLINTON: It's great to be back, Chris. Thank you.

WALLACE: Senator, in an interesting bit of karma, we are talking on the first anniversary of my interview with your husband, and I would like to show you a clip from that interview. Here it is.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You did FOX's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.


WALLACE: Senator, talk about conservative hit jobs, right-wing conspiracies — why do you and the president have such a hyper-partisan view of politics?


H. CLINTON: 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.

This week I rolled out my American health choices plan. I'm going to work very hard to travel around the country, talk about why we need to tackle quality, affordable health care for every American.

We've got to deal with the economy and some of the problems that people are facing in the mortgage market and the fact that a lot of people are not getting ahead.

In the last six years, the average family income has dropped $1,000. That's not good news for our economy or for real hard-working people.

So what I'm focused on is coming forth with ideas that I believe are in the best interests of our country. And clearly, around the world, we've got to restore America's leadership. That starts with ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, but there's a lot more to do.

And I think it would be great if we had a debate on the substance, that we really talked about what each of us will bring to the White House, because I'm excited by what I hear as I travel around America.

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.

WALLACE: Senator, I want to talk about health care in a moment, but this is a question that one of your Democratic competitors, Barack Obama, mentions in criticism of you. You talk a lot about taking on the right wing in your campaign. Let's watch.


H. CLINTON: For 15 years, I have stood up against the right-wing machine, and I've come out stronger, so if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl.


WALLACE: Question: Why do we want another president who thinks so much in terms of right versus left and red state versus blue state?

H. CLINTON: Well, if you look at what I've done in New York, Chris, I won re-election with nearly 67 percent of the vote, carrying a lot of the same counties that George Bush had carried just two years before.

I've been able to get a lot of Republican and independent support in this campaign. I know how to seek and find common ground, but I also know how to stand my ground.

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.

And I don't think that it's in the best interests of our country that people try to pull the debate off of what I believe is important, and that is coming to some resolution about these problems that are not getting better.

We now have more uninsured Americans than we did before.

WALLACE: Senator, can I ask...

H. CLINTON: We have a lot of hard-working Americans...

WALLACE: Senator, can I ask you about health care?

H. CLINTON: ... who've given up looking for work.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about health care, because you did...

H. CLINTON: Yes, I'd love for you to ask me about health care.

WALLACE: You did come up with a new plan this week which you say would insure the...

H. CLINTON: I did.

WALLACE: ... 47 million Americans who are uninsured. And let's talk about how you would pay for it.

You say that you'd get $52 billion from repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and $77 billion from making the system more efficient.

Senator, saying you're going to save billions from waste and fraud is an old technique. I covered Ronald Reagan back in 1980 who talked about doing it that way and we ended up with huge deficits.

If you're unable to get those savings from waste and fraud and abuse, would you raise taxes further or would you cut your program?

H. CLINTON: Well, Chris, let me first describe the program. 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.

But if you are one of those 47 million uninsured, or if you are one of the many millions more who actually have insurance except when you really need it and the insurance company won't pay for what your doctor has prescribed, you will now have the same choices that are available to members of Congress, because we will open up the plan that members of Congress have and give you a health choices menu to choose from.

We will also provide a health care tax credit for those who cannot, on their own, afford it or who don't have employer help.

Similarly, I will provide a new small business health care tax credit because a lot of small businesses tell me that they'd love to be able to help provide health care for their employees, but they just can't afford it, and we're going to make it affordable.

But in our system, we have a lot of inefficiencies. Let's take electronic medical records, because if we were to have a system where everyone had a private, confidential health care record — this is something that I've worked on with Newt Gingrich — we would see that we would save a lot of money. It's been estimated by not me but others who have studied this — about $77 billion a year.

If we better managed chronic care, we would save money, because right now we don't, and we pay a big price for it. So there are a lot of cost savings.

And let me just correct you for a minute. My plan has about $52 billion in tax cuts because of what we're doing by moving the tax rates back to the pre-Bush era. And yes, taxes will go up on people making $250,000, but most Americans will see a net tax decrease.

And we have about $55 billion in savings from electronic medical records, chronic care management, taking away some of the overpayment to HMOs that have unfortunately driven up the cost of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

And if people want to see how I will both get health care and how I will move toward fiscal responsibility, please go to my Web site,, because we talk about how we will pay for all of the initiatives that I am proposing in this campaign.

I take fiscal responsibility very seriously. I regret deeply that President Bush threw out fiscal responsibility over the last 6.5 years. And under my administration, we will move back toward fiscal responsibility.

WALLACE: Senator, you talk, as you just did, a lot about choice in your plan, but the fact is you still have sweeping government mandates, and let's take a look at those.

You mandate that all Americans would have to buy insurance or face penalties, even young people who may not want it.

You mandate that large businesses would have to insure employees or pay a tax. According to a top Harvard economist, 200,000 people would end up losing their jobs because of that.

And you mandate that insurance companies would have to offer coverage to all applicants no matter how sick they are.

So, Senator, isn't there still a good deal of government coercion in your plan?

H. CLINTON: Well, there is certainly a shared responsibility that goes with having a health care system that both can afford to provide quality affordable health care for everyone and puts responsibility on everyone in our country.

Individuals will have to have insurance, but we're going to make it affordable.

The health care industry, the drug industry, are going to have to change the way they conduct business. Right now the way that they do has driven up costs and unfortunately lowered choices for many millions of Americans.

Business will take responsibility, but within a system that will actually get their costs down. And we have, you know, reams of evidence and lots of experts lined up to say just that.

In fact, most of the independent experts who have looked at my plan over the last week have been very favorably disposed toward it.

But the most important thing is we cannot continue down this path. It is a moral imperative that we provide health insurance for the 47 million uninsured Americans, including the nine million — the president's response is, when we tried to extend insurance to children, to say he will veto that. I don't think that's a majority opinion in our country.

And we also know that we have to deal with this economically because we can't continue to increase the amount of money we spend on health care.

We, frankly, don't get the best results for all the money that we've spent and we lose jobs right now to competition because we don't have a system that everyone shares responsibility in achieving quality, affordable health care for every American.

WALLACE: Senator, you have refused to criticize the ad about General Petraeus. And in fact, this week you voted against a Senate resolution denouncing it.

President Bush said that you and other Democrats are more afraid — his word — afraid of irritating the left wing and MoveOn than you are about insulting the American military. Does he have a point?

H. CLINTON: No, he doesn't. But I think it's clear I don't condone attacks on anyone who has served our country with distinction and with honor, and I have been very vocal in my support of and admiration for General Petraeus.

I did vote for a resolution that made it clear I do not condone and do condemn attacks on any American, impugning their patriotism, and that includes people like Senator Max Cleland and Senator John Kerry.

I think we need to call a halt to any kind of attacks, from wherever they come, that would go after anyone based on their service to America.

But you know, this is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about how we end the war in Iraq. That's the debate that I want to be participating in, and I think a lot of people on the other side don't want us to have that debate.

Many of us are trying to move our Congress and the White House toward what we believe must be done, and that is extricating our troops from this sectarian civil war. I'm going to continue to speak out about that. If the president doesn't do it before his term ends, when I am president, I will.

But let's keep the debate focused on where it needs to be. We have young men and women who are serving honorably and heroically and who are dying in this sectarian civil war.

We have an Iraqi government that won't move the way it should to deal with the political problems. And we have a Bush administration that has not engaged in the diplomatic efforts with any urgency.

So I think we should stay focused on what the real debate in America is about, and that is how do we extricate ourselves from Iraq and begin to bring our troops home.

WALLACE: But, Senator, I want to follow up on this question of the real debate, and I want to put up an article by liberal columnist Richard Cohen this week.

He wrote when the entertainment mogul David Geffen, once a Clinton supporter, called both Bill and Hillary liars, Hillary not only decried the remark as a particularly vivid example of the politics of personal destruction, but she demanded that Barack Obama do the same and return a $2,300 donation Geffen had given him.

Yet when Clinton herself was asked to repudiate the abuse of Petraeus, she either saw no reason to do so or, much more likely, was afraid to alienate an important constituency, the 3.3 million members of

So let me ask you specifically. Do you repudiate the ad?

H. CLINTON: I have said, and I have voted for, condemning anyone who goes after the patriotism and service of any American.

But let's put this in a broader context. You know, there are many people who have assaulted over the years the patriotism and service of other Americans. I think it's time to end all of that.

And what I voted for in the Senate did that. It was balanced and it said, very clearly, we condemn attacks on anyone who has served honorably in our country's uniform. And I am absolutely of the mind that this should not be part of our debate.

But I am not going to be taken off my course, which is to try to end the war in Iraq. 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.

I think we should focus on what is happening in Iraq to our young men and women. Nearly 3,800 have been killed. More than 30,000 have been injured.

So I think it's very clear that when you cannot come up with a strategy that will get us out of Iraq, you obviously are going to focus on and try to bring attention to, you know, political strategy.

I think it's time that we all said, "Look. This is not working. It has not worked." And unfortunately, the president refuses to change course, so when I'm president, I will.

WALLACE: Senator, we've got a couple of minutes left. Let's talk about Iraq. There are reports that the president is going to submit a new spending bill this week calling for another $200 billion in spending for Iraq.

Last May you voted to cut off spending. Will you do so again with this spending bill?

H. CLINTON: I will not vote for any funding that does not move us toward beginning to withdraw our troops, that does not have pressure on the Iraqi government to make the tough political decisions that they have, that does not recognize that there is a diplomatic endeavor that has to be undertaken.

This has gone on now, unfortunately, for years, with the president holding on to his failed policy and with Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail deciding to support that failed policy, and it's really the only way that I can register my very strong disapproval of this policy, and I will continue to do so.

WALLACE: But, senator, some of this money, as you well know, goes to protect our troops from mines and IEDs. No matter how you feel about the war, how can you vote to cut them off when they're still on the front lines?

H. CLINTON: I think the best way to protect our troops is to start bringing them home. And I have been a strong supporter of the American military.

I have fought hard for body armor when the Bush administration was not able or willing to produce it in the quantities that were necessary.

I've stood with my colleagues to fight hard for armored vehicles because we knew that they needed additional protection in Iraq and they weren't getting it.

I have stood against the no-bid contracts and the cronyism that has wasted billions and billions of dollars, taxpayer dollars that should be going to protecting our troops. But this administration, unfortunately, keeps turning a blind eye to the abuses in the contracting process.

And I will continue to do everything that I can to protect our troops, starting with trying to get to a policy that will recognize their heroism and their valor, but also the fact that there is no military solution.

Everyone knows that. Everyone agrees with that. And yet that is the only policy that this administration is willing to support.

And it's time that we said to the Iraqi government they do not have an open-ended commitment of our young men and women and tens of billions of dollars that Americans, you know, no longer believe is being put to good use in Iraq, and that we will do everything we can to try to bring our young men and women home.

That is my goal, and I think that is, you know, my ultimate and most important responsibility. I have been guided by an overriding principle to do what I think is best for my country and best for the troops that serve it, and I will continue to do so.

WALLACE: Senator, we've got about 30 seconds left. One final question. You spoke out very clearly when Iranian president Ahmadinejad talked about going to Ground Zero.

Now he's going to speak at Columbia tomorrow. Do you think that Columbia should rescind this invitation?

H. CLINTON: Well, I'm going to leave that up to Columbia, but I was outraged that he wanted to go to Ground Zero and did speak out very forcefully, and thankfully he will not go to Ground Zero.

Obviously, we have a very difficult problem ahead in dealing with Iran, something that I think the Bush administration put on the back burner for too long, outsourced to the French, the British and the Germans, instead of, you know, going forward and seeing if there were any ways that we could rein in this regime and certainly prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

And that's going to be my focus as a senator and as president.

WALLACE: Senator Clinton, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for joining us today. Don't be a stranger, and please send my best to the president.


H. CLINTON: I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that, Chris. Thank you.