Panetta: ‘It’s a Wonder’ Anyone Could Support the Presidential Candidates

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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday on ABC that the attacks between the presidential campaigns made him feel it was a "wonder" that the American people could support any of the 2016 candidates.

This Week host Martha Raddatz noted that Hillary Clinton's abysmal favorability numbers would make it difficult for her to unite the country if she won the White House, prompting Panetta to cite the tone of the campaigns between her and Donald Trump.

"I think the responsibility of a president, when they walk into the Oval Office, is to earn the trust of the American people," Panetta said. "And they earn the trust of the American people by what they do as president. You know, everything occurs in terms of a political campaign. There are attacks and counter-attacks, and it's a wonder, frankly, that the American people can look at any of these candidates and want to support them."

Panetta, a longtime Democrat who was chief of staff for Bill Clinton, went on to say he felt Hillary Clinton was the strongest choice because of her knowledge and experience. Panetta spoke at the Democratic National Convention and endorsed Clinton earlier this year.

Full exchange:

MARTHA RADDATZ: Hillary Clinton's unfavorability numbers are averaging 53 percent, or as the Washington Post put it, if it weren't for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton would be the most disliked major party presidential nominee in recent American history. If Hillary Clinton wins, how do you see her bringing this country together and getting anything done?

LEON PANETTA: Martha, in my experience, having worked under nine presidents, I think the responsibility of a president, when they walk into the Oval Office, is to earn the trust of the American people. And they earn the trust of the American people by what they do as president. You know, everything occurs in terms of a political campaign. There are attacks and counter-attacks, and it's a wonder, frankly, that the American people can look at any of these candidates and want to support them. We've been through this in the past, but ultimately, when you do elect somebody to be President of the United States, it is then, and then only, frankly, that that president begins to earn the trust of the American people.

And that's why I believe that Secretary Clinton, because of her judgment, because of her experience, because of her knowledge about world affairs and the issues we confront, that she will bring that kind of leadership to the presidency, and she ultimately will earn the trust by virtue of what she does and not what she says.

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