WASHINGTON POST: As GOP debate begins Clinton says she feels ‘a little bit sorry’ for Republicans
As originally appearing in The Washington Post

BY ANNE GEARAN

 

BARTLETT, N.H. — Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday she feels “just a little bit sorry for the Republicans” as they met for another debate, because “they really don’t have a lot to talk about.”

“I think we have a pretty good idea what to expect,” Clinton said just before the Republican debate began in Colorado. “They compete to insult each other, continue demeaning women, double down on trickle-down” economics, Clinton charged.

“It really is like a reality TV show. But the cast of character is out of touch with actual reality, which is what makes it a little bit scary.”

Clinton spoke at a Democratic dinner in this northern New Hampshire mountain ski town. The predominately older, white crowd cheered her partisan jibes as well as her assertion that the first Democratic debate this month had explored real issues and challenges.

The audience cheered several of the policy proposals Clinton ticked off, including paid family leave and better access to mental health care. Many in the crowd were undecided about voting for her, however, as the driveway to the hotel where she spoke attested. Interspersed with the “Hillary” signs were a nearly equal number that read “Bernie, for challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont.

Clinton’s New Hampshire swing this week follows a week of good news. Vice President Biden announced he would not run against her, and she emerged unscathed from 11 hours of testimony before Republican-led House Benghazi committee. She is up in polls in New Hampshire and Iowa and appears to have quieted Democratic qualms about the strength of her candidacy.

Her improved standing may give her some greater elbow room to voice opinions at odds with the most liberal elements of her party.

Earlier Wednesday in New Hampshire, Clinton said she does not support abolition of the death penalty. Sanders does favor ending the death penalty.

“I think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve consideration of the death penalty, but I would like to see those be very limited and rare,” Clinton said

She said the death penalty has been unevenly and sometimes discriminatorily applied, and said she favors a careful review of the circumstances under which states seek it.

There are ways to make it fairer, she suggested, “as opposed to what we have seen in some states where there are hundreds of people on death row and they would not be on death row in a comparable state.”

“I think we have to be smarter and more careful about how we do it.”

The remarks came in response to a question from an audience member at a “Politics & Eggs” forum at St. Anselm College in Manchester. She did not mention Sanders.

Clinton also said Wednesday that she favors reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, and urged the Senate to follow the House in supporting its extension, and said she does not favor raising the age at which Social Security may be drawn.

“It might be fine for somebody like me, but the vast majority of working people who have worked hard and have had a difficult last couple years trying to work, it would be very, very challenging for them,” she said.

“If there were a way to do it that would not penalize or punish laborers and factory workers and long-distance truck drivers and people who really are ready to retire at a much earlier age I would consider it, but I have yet to find any recommendation that I would think would be suitable.”

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.

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