Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, struggled Thursday to refute charges that the Democratic presidential frontrunner displayed hypocrisy by joining a massive protest of Verizon workers only a couple years after receiving a large sum of money from the telecommunications company for a speech she gave in 2013.
Clinton joined nearly 40,000 striking Verizon workers Wednesday afternon to show solidartiy with them after her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), stood by the protestors and cheered them on earlier in the day. It was then reported that Clinton gave a speech to Verizon for $225,000 in May 2013 and that her campaign has received tens of thousands of additional dollars from the corporation’s executives and lobbyists, causing Sanders supporters to call her a hypocrit.
Verizon has also given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which was founded by Clinton’s husband.
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked Mook on Thursday to explain why Clinton gave the speech and how it was not hypocrticial to subsequently join Verizon strikers in the streets, and he repeatedly dodged answering the question.
"What we can also expect tonight [at the Democratic presidential debate] is that he is going to go after Hillary Clinton for what he would call the hypocrisy," Mitchell said to Mook. "She was out with the Verizon strikers yesterday hours after [Sanders] had done the same. Yet she gave a paid speech to Verizon in May of 2013, for which she earned $225,000. Can you tell us the circumstances of that speech?"
"Well, again, the question here is: Who are Democrats going to nominate who is going to get things done in Washington - " Mook began to say before being cut off.
"Let’s get back to the speech. Why did she take $225,000 from Verizon, from the same company which has this massive strike ... and she was out with the strikers?" Mitchell asked.
"Because time and again in her career, Hillary Clinton has stood with people against powerful interests," Mook responded, adding that Sanders can’t answer how he will implement his policy plans while Clinton has a record of getting things done. "And I will say, his strategy of personal attacks here in New York has failed."
Mitchell repeated her question, asking how Clinton will respond at the Democratic debate Thursday night to the charge that she is a hypocrtic by taking $225,000 for giving a speech to Verizon executives and then joining those protesting the corporation.
"Well, I think Senator Sanders should answer for the fact that in his first election campaign for Congress, that the [National Rifle Association] funded the campaign against his opponent," Mook said. "He is arguably in Congress today because of the help of the NRA. He should be answering for that, and he voted with them in Congress - "
"But getting back to the question of Hillary Clinton and Verizon, though," Mitchell interjected, "how do you answer that? How does she answer that?"
Mook repeated his previous answer that Clinton has always stood with working people against "powerful special interests."
"That’s what she did yesterday; that’s what she’s going to do as president," he said.
Mitchell then moved on after failing to solicit an answer from Mook, asking what Clinton’s attack lines will be against Sanders at the debate.
Sanders has criticized Clinton on the campaign trail for taking large sums of money from corporations in recent years, arguing it undercuts her message to address income inequality by targeting Wall Street. He often cites three speeches Clinton gave to Goldamn Sachs in 2013 for $675,000, which is part of the $125,000,000 she and her husband, Bill, have reportedly accumulated in paid speeches to financial firms since leaving the White House.