EXETER, N.H. — Hillary Clinton would like to talk to you about Marco Rubio.
To be specific, she would like to really, really remind you that Rubio, the 44-year-old U.S. senator running for president, said on Friday during the first Republican debate that he opposes abortions even in cases of rape and incest.
This, given all the polls showing that a vast majority of voters feel the opposite way that Rubio does, is a development that Clinton would like to bring up on the campaign trail — just as she did, or tried to, on Monday afternoon, standing at a podium in the atrium of Exeter High School, before taking a series of questions from reporters about another topic concerning the debate: Donald Trump's suggestion that one of the moderators, Megyn Kelly of Fox News, asked tough questions because she was menstruating.
"While what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of Republicans are saying about all women is also outrageous," Clinton said during her brief intro, surrounded by about two dozen reporters and cameramen. "They say they would force women who've been raped to carry their rapist's child."
"Megyn Kelly is a strong woman, and more than capable of defending herself against Donald Trump," Clinton said, getting that out of the way. "I'm worried about what Republican policies would do to the rest of America's women, and I will continue to speak out and speak up about that today and through the rest of this campaign — and in the white house."
But on Monday, the things Clinton would "continue to speak out and speak up about" appeared to have little to do with her own plans for speaking out and speaking up. Along with most every political figure taking questions this week, Clinton would actually be speaking out and up on Monday about Trump.
In this case, about seven times.
Q: You know Donald Trump. Does he have a serious long-standing problem with women, and what would you say to him if he were standing here right now?
I'm just going to leave my comments where they are.
I thought what he said was offensive and I certainly think that it deserves the kind of reaction that it's getting from so many others. But I think if we focus on that we're making a mistake. What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive. And I want people to understand, if you just focus on maybe the biggest showmen on the stage, you lose the thread here. The thread is that the Republicans are putting forth some very radical and offensive positions when it comes to women's lives, women's reproductive health, women's employment, women's opportunities. So we'll let the Republicans go back and forth with each other, but I want to point out, there's really not that much difference in the policies they are proposing when it comes to women.
Q: Do you think he should apologize?
Q: Madam Secretary, regarding Donald Trump, though.
His language was different. You can disagree with the Republicans on Planned Parenthood and a lot of other issues. But his language. How does that differentiate him from any other candidate in either party? Is he qualified to be president of the United States? He's still continuing, he has not apologized, and he made reference today again to the "bimbo" comment regarding Megyn Kelly.
Well, the Republicans get to choose their nominee. And they will have to make that decision. But I just respectfully disagree with you. When one of their major candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should be no exception for rape and incest — that is as offensive and as troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidates running for the presidency. So the language may be more colorful, and more offensive, but the thinking — the attitude toward women — is very much the same. It just is delivered in a different package. So I don't want people to be confused here about the outrageous comments by one, and just say, we're focused on this, and we're gonna let the fact that there should be no exceptions for rape or incest go unnoticed or unmentioned. I'm not gonna let that happen.
Q: With all due respect ma'am, when you refer to a woman questioner at a national debate and refer to her menstrual cycle as the reason why she asked a difficult question — don't you think that is appreciably different than a profound disagreement with the rights of women, which you have with Marco Rubio, as you've just stated?
I said it was outrageous. I said it was offensive. I stand by that.
I think more people should say the same. They should be going after him. The Republican party is gonna have to deal with him, but I just want to remind us that what they say about women — not one woman, who is perfectly capable and incredibly impressive and able to take care of herself — but all these women that I have fought for, worked for, stood up for, advocated for, and want to be a president for, who may not have the opportunity to defend themselves, who may lose the right to exercise a personal choice, if certain [one] of the Republican were to be successful — I don't want that forgotten.
So yes, I know it makes great TV. I think the guy went way overboard. Offensive, outrageous — pick your adjective. But what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage. And it is deeply troubling. And it should be to the press, not just to those of who have been doing this work for so long.
Q: Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump also made a comment basically saying that he forced you to go to his wedding by giving money to your campaign. Did you take offense to that? Is that true?
It's entertainment! I mean, look — it's all entertainment! I mean, you know, I think he's having the time of his life, you know, being up on that stage, saying whatever he wants to say, getting people excited both for an against him!
Q: are you seeing a side of him you hadn't seen before?
I didn't know him that well. I mean, I knew him! I knew him and, uh, I happened to be planning to be in Florida, and I thought it would be fun to go to his wedding because it's always entertaining. Now that he's running for president, it's a little more troubling.
Q: there's talk out there that your husband may have encouraged Trump to run.
Clinton ignored the last one. And when the next question came, about another topic entirely, the reply was immediate.
"Really," Clinton said. "What does Donald Trump have to say…?"
Ruby Cramer is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ruby Cramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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