Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton refused to flatly say during an interview aired Thursday that she has not and will not lie to the American people.
Speaking to CBS’ Scott Pelley, Clinton appeared unwilling to definitively promise that she would always be honest as president.
Pelley cited former president Jimmy Carter’s 1976 promise to voters when he said, “I will not lie to you,” asking Clinton if she would also make such a statement.
“Well, I have to tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state, to level with the American people,” Clinton said in response.
“You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?” Pelley then asked.
“I’ve always tried to,” Clinton responded. “Always, always.”
Appearing a bit puzzled, Pelley pushed Clinton on the question, saying, “Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself. ‘Always tried to.’ Jimmy Carter said, ‘I will never lie to you.’”
“No, I’ve always tried to,” Clinton said again, appearing flustered. “You know, you’re asking me to say have I ever. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will. I’m going to do the best I can to level with the American people.”
Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short issued a statement in response to Clinton’s interview answer, which says, “The fact Hillary Clinton felt the need to waffle on a question about whether she is a liar is precisely why two-thirds of the American people think she’s dishonest and unstrustworthy.”
Clinton’s response comes as the latest national Quinnipiac poll shows that two-thirds of American voters think Clinton is not honest or trustworthy.
The former secretary of state has had to battle low poll numbers when it comes to her honesty and trustworthiness for months, in part because of the ongoing FBI investigation into her private email server and unanswered questions about her role in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), Clinton’s primary opponent, has been able to capitalize on the integrity issues surrounding Clinton and virtually tie her in the Iowa caucus and win a resounding victory in the New Hampshire primary by more than twenty points.
Beyond the FBI investigation and Beghazi controversy, Clinton has been accused of changing her stances on various issues when it is politically convenient for her.
Sanders has also said Clinton is too close to Wall Street in a race that has focused on going after the financial industry to address income in equality, citing the millions of dollars in speaking fees she has accumulated from finanical firms, many of which have links to Wall Street.
Sanders supporters have charged that Clinton’s tough rhetoric against Wall Street shows she is hypocritical, adding to the perception that she is untrustworthy.
Clinton is looking to regain momentum in the Nevada Democratic caucus on Saturday, although she is currently tied with Sanders there, according to recent polling.