Hillary Clinton's highly paid speeches to Wall Street banks might have been lucrative for her, but they have been costly on the campaign trail as she seeks the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Yet despite repeated requests from voters, members of the media and primary opponent Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), she has refused to release the transcripts of speeches for which she was paid exorbitant amounts. One of Sanders' popular quips on the campaign trail is to joke that Clinton's six-figure-per-hour speaking fees must be as good as "Shakespearean prose."
At the contentious Brooklyn debate with Sanders on April 14, CNN moderator Dana Bash asked Clinton why she wouldn't put the issue to rest and make them public. When she dodged the question the first time, Bash repeated it to the delight of the audience.
Clinton insisted "let's set the same standard for everyone."
"I have said, look, there are certain—there are certain expectations when you run for president," Clinton said. "This is a new one. And I've said if everybody agrees to do it—because there are speeches for money on the other side. I know that."
A Good Morning America town hall questioner asked Clinton on April 21 f she would release the transcripts for the "sake of transparency."
"That's a good question, it's a very fair question and let me answer it this way," she said. "I have released 33 years of tax returns … Now there's a new request to release transcripts of speeches that have been given. When everybody agrees to do that, I will as well, because I think it's important we all abide by the same standards."
A man at an MSNBC town hall Feb. 18 actually pleaded with Clinton to release them.
"Why are you hesitant to release transcript or audio-video recordings of those meetings to be transparent with the American people, regarding the promises and assurances that you have made to the big banks?" the man asked Clinton.
"I am happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders," Clinton said.
Yet after she touted what she described as a tough record on Wall Street, the man was unimpressed.
"How can we trust that this isn't just more political rhetoric? Please just release those transcripts, so that we know exactly where you stand," he said.
CNN's Chris Cuomo also got the equal standards response from Clinton when he asked about it at a town hall Feb. 23.
"Why is there one standard for me and not for everybody else, Chris?" she replied.
Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski pressed Clinton on the subject in February and was similarly stonewalled.
"Isn't it more important perhaps to be transparent to Democratic voters about what you said to big banks behind closed doors?" Brzezinski asked.
Clinton said she had been transparent, and she shrugged when Brzezinski wondered why Clinton didn't want to just ahead of the issue.
"No, I really don't," Clinton said, adding, "As I've said, happy to do it when everybody, including the Republicans, does it."
Clinton also told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on April 17 that she was concerned about a "constantly changing set of standards" when he inquired about them. Clinton told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on May 3 that there was "nothing" controversial in the speeches.
"So why not just put it out there?" Mitchell asked.
"Because I know others, including Mr. Trump, have made speeches," Clinton said, reverting to her talking points about releasing tax returns.