Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday defended her record of flip-flopping on major issues including same-sex marriage, the Iraq War and the Keystone XL pipeline, saying she is not “someone who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence.”
Chuck Todd, anchor of NBC “Meet the Press,” showed Mrs. Clinton a montage of her changing views:
⦁ As a New York senator in 2002, she voted for the Iraq War, saying “it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interest of our nation.” Thirteen years later, she said she made a mistake, “plain and simple.”
⦁ In 2004, Mrs. Clinton said she believed “marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman.” The day that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June, she said, “love triumphed in the highest court in our land.”
⦁ As secretary of state in 2010, she said the government was inclined to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to the United States. Last week, she said she opposes it “because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.”
Responding to the montage, Mrs. Clinton said: “I don’t think that reflects either my assessment of issues and I don’t think it reflects how people who are thoughtful actually conduct their lives. I mean, if we don’t learn, if we don’t make decisions based on the best information we have available, well, that’s regrettable.”
Mrs. Clinton said she had been clear on the fact she made a mistake in voting for an Iraq invasion and that when it came to same-sex marriage, she wasn’t raised to imagine this as a possibility but her thinking on the matter has “evolved.”
Changing your views based on new information is key to being a good leader, she said.
When she made her initial comments about Keystone XL, “we did not have the kind of energy profile that we now have. We did not have the full understanding of how that particular oil that would’ve been extracted from those tar sands was of a different degree and polluting in terms of greenhouse gases,” Mrs. Clinton said.
“I am not someone who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence or regardless of the way that I perceive what’s happening in the world around me,” she said. “That’s where the Republicans are. They’re still believing in trickle-down economics, even though it was a disaster not once, but twice for our country.”
On CNN, Former President Bill Clinton said Republicans are spotlighting Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal and the congressional hearings on the Benghazi attacks because they fear her presidential candidacy.
Mr. Clinton said Republicans want his wife’s campaign “as mangled up as possible” because the Democratic primary race is about issues and substance while the Republican contest has turned into a spectacle led by billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
Mrs. Clinton had been widely expected to be the front-runner not only in the Democratic primaries but also the general election. Her husband said this scared Republicans, who have been pushing to the forefront of the media the scandal over her exclusive use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. She has apologized for emails containing classified information that passed through her server.
“I think there are lots of people who wanted there to be a race for different reasons, and they thought the only way they could make it a race was a full-scale frontal assault on her, and so this email thing became the biggest story in the world,” Mr. Clinton said.
Mrs. Clinton has been falling in Democratic polls, with Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders edging up in a strong second position. Mr. Sanders has surpassed her in New Hampshire polling.
Mr. Clinton also weighed in on the Republican primary race, saying it is possible that Mr. Trump could capture the nomination.
“He’s got a lot of pizzazz and zip,” Mr. Clinton said, adding that Mr. Trump has the ability to make himself distinct in a race that started out with 17 Republican candidates, and has found a way to make his working-class supporters believe that he would help them economically.
“He’s branded himself. He’s created excitement,” Mr. Clinton said.