- The Washington Times - Friday, November 6, 2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton begged Democratic primary voters to get beyond her support, and her husband’s signature, for the 1990s Defense of Marriage Act, saying Friday it was actually meant as a way to head of a secret effort to be even tougher on same-sex marriage.

Speaking at a Democratic presidential forum in South Carolina hosted by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Mrs. Clinton was challenged on her claim that there were conversations at the time proposing a constitutional amendment. Mrs. Clinton backtracked, saying there may not have been public pushes for such an amendment, but she did hear private conversations that made her and former President Clinton worried.

The Defense of Marriage Act, which the Supreme Court has now eviscerated, said marriage for federal law purposes was the union of a man and a woman.

“We are now beyond that and my husband has certainly said, and I agree with what he said, now thankfully we have moved to a stage where marriage equality is the law of the land,” Mrs. Clinton said.

She, Sen. Bernard Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley each appeared separately at the forum, in which Ms. Maddow pressed them to explain how they would carry out their liberal wish lists.

Mrs. Clinton did not back away from all of her stances, saying she does still support a federal death penalty for serious terrorism cases and for racially motivated mass shootings.

But she challenged Ms. Maddow’s assumption that she would be more hawkish than President Obama on foreign policy, saying while she doesn’t want to take the option of force off the table, it’s always a last resort for her. She has said she regrets her 2002 vote in favor of invading Iraq.

Ms. Maddow was particularly interested in how the candidates could translate their liberal visions into accomplishments with a Congress that is not that left-wing.

Mrs. Clinton, for her part, refused to pick a Republican presidential candidate she could have as her running mate, admitting she was overtly ducking the question. In the first Democratic presidential debate last month Mrs. Clinton said she was proud to have Republicans as her enemy.

Mr. Sanders, meanwhile, was asked what Republican he would pick to serve in his Cabinet. He said he’s worked with GOP lawmakers on veterans issues, and named Sen. John McCain as someone he’s partnered with — but stopped short of naming a specific secretary.

As for getting his agenda through, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent who is running as a Democrat, said he will need to be aided by a major voter surge that also changes Congress.

He said he is uniquely able to push for action on gun control because Vermont is such a permissive state, saying he’ll be able to assemble a coalition in the moderate center on the issue.

Mr O’Malley struggled to come up with reasons he’ll be able to succeed where Mr. Obama has tried but failed.

He said his solution to closing Guantanamo Bay was to try harder and enlist military leaders to make his case, and said his years of experience as governor and, before that, as mayor of Baltimore, give him the ability to work with a legislature.

Mr. O’Malley, working with a heavily Democratic legislature, accomplished a left-wing dream-list as governor, including tax and spending hikes, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and abolishing the death penalty. But he struggled when pressed by Ms. Maddow, who wondered whether that agenda had scared voters, who rejected his hand-picked successor and elected a Republican last year.

The former governor did go on the offensive against Mr. Sanders at one point, saying the Vermont senator’s commitment to the Democratic Party was tenuous.

“When President Obama was running for re-election I was glad to step up and work very hard for him while Senator Sanders was trying to find someone to primary him,” Mr. O’Malley said.

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