Hillary Clinton did not say she regretted calling Republicans her "enemies" during the first Democratic debate last year in an interview posted Monday, adding that "they say terrible things about me, much worse than anything I’ve ever said about them."
CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper asked the presidential candidates last October which enemy they were most proud to have made during their political careers. In addition to the National Rifle Association, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, and the Iranians, Clinton said, "probably the Republicans."
Vox’s Ezra Klein, who wrote at the time that those words might haunt her entire candidacy, asked Clinton about her response during their lengthy interview. Clinton is now the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee after wrapping up the nomination last month.
"I think here of the debate when you said that you were proud of having Republicans as your enemies. Do you think that part of this environment has put you in a place of feeding it and running more negative campaigns?" Klein asked.
"Not very much," Clinton said. "I mean, you can go back and look at how I’ve worked with Republicans, and I think I have a very strong base of relationships with them and evidence of that. But, you know, they say terrible things about me, much worse than anything I’ve ever said about them. That just seems to be part of the political back and forth now, to appeal to your base, to appeal to the ideologues who support you. We have become so divided, and we’ve got to try to get people back listening to each other and trying to roll up our sleeves and solve these problems that we face, and I think we can do that."
Klein, in his post-interview column, cited this answer as an example of Clinton contributing to her own polarizing image with the public:
It’s a weird answer. Within the space of a couple of sentences, Clinton refuses to apologize for calling Republicans her enemy, says she works well with them, blames them for saying worse about her, laments that this is how politics works now, and then says, "We’ve got to try to get people back to listening to each other."