Hillary Clinton on losing in Wisconsin, getting universal health care

'What Happened,' according to Hillary Clinton (full interview)

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On Friday: Judy Woodruff sat down with Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate, to discuss her new book titled "What Happened."

We return now to that interview, when Judy asked about Clinton's campaign against Donald Trump and mistakes she might've made in certain key states.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think your campaign was negligent, or whatever word you want to use, in not raising enough warning signs about the perils that could lie ahead in Wisconsin and Michigan?

Those states, of course, turned out to be crucial to the outcome.

HILLARY CLINTON, Author, "What Happened": Well, when you're in a campaign you — you look at the best information you have.

And our best information from polling, from what's called data analytics, from people on the ground didn't indicate that we faced what eventually happened in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania.

We campaigned hard. We had more people on the ground working for my campaign than President Obama had had. We were in constant communication: What do you hear? What do you see?

Wisconsin's a particularly interesting example, because Russ Feingold, someone I served with, was running again for the Senate. His polling and the polling done by the Senate Democrats showed he was going to win. I ended up doing better than he did.

There were all kinds of factors. And one of the biggest problems in Wisconsin has been the well-executed effort to suppress voters, African-American voters in Milwaukee, young voters, particularly in Madison and elsewhere. It proved to be very effective.

And we campaigned hard in Pennsylvania. We campaigned hard in Michigan. I was there the day before the election. So, I — I just don't believe that those were the determining factors about how many visits how many people made. I just don't buy that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy also asked Secretary Clinton about the criticism of her campaign from within her own party, specifically from former Vice President Joe Biden.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You also had some comments about former Vice President Joe Biden. And I want to ask you about that, because he said after the election that he thought your campaign and Democrats in general didn't adequately communicate to Americans who were economically strapped what Democrats were prepared to do for them.

Isn't that very similar, if not the same thing, your husband, President Clinton, was telling your campaign before the election?

HILLARY CLINTON: No.

And, look, I'm a friend of and a big admirer of Joe Biden. He and I have worked together. We served together.

And I point out in the book, you know, every day, we were talking about jobs and the economy. Post-election analyses said I talked about jobs more than anything else and more than anybody else. We had really specific plans.

I was talking about them endlessly. But they weren't covered. When you get 32 minutes in a whole year to cover every issue, and 100 minutes on e-mails, I don't fault voters for not knowing what we were saying.

Joe campaigned for me. He talked about jobs. Everybody else talked about jobs and what we were intending to do. But, you know, it was — it turned out not to be enough in that particular environment.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, finally, they turned to health care, which, if you remember, was one of the major sticking points during the Democratic primary contest.

Judy asked Secretary Clinton about her former opponent Senator Bernie Sanders and his recent health care proposal.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the campaign, you, on a number of occasions, argued with Bernie Sanders, because he argued there should be more of a government-run health care system, rather than expanding Obamacare.

Now he has this new plan out to expand Medicare, cover more people in the direction of single-payer. And dozens of Democrats are behind it. Are they making a mistake?

HILLARY CLINTON: No. It's an aspirational goal.

I believe in universal health care coverage that is affordable and high-quality. There are a number of ways to get there. I think some are more likely than others.

During the primary campaign, I did defend the Affordable Care Act, because, for the first time in our history, we had 90 percent of Americans covered. And as I said over and over again, it's a lot easier to get from 90 to 100 percent than ripping it up and starting all over again.

But as someone who's worked on health care to try to get to universal coverage for 25 years, it matters how much it costs. It matters what people feel about giving up what they already have. And half of America gets health care from their employers. It matters what kind of standards are going to be expected in whatever benefits there are.

You know, the devil is always in the details when it comes to universal health care coverage. So, I think having a debate about the best way we get there and having people really lay their cards on the table, so that it can be examined, is important.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because some Democrats are saying it is a mistake, that this takes the focus. It, in essence, cedes the fact that Obamacare hasn't worked and that there needs to be another way.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that would be unfortunate.

And I — it would only — that would only be true if Democrats in large numbers in the House and Senate stopped working to make sure the Affordable Care Act continues.

I think there still is a lot of energy behind that, because the likelihood of us getting — you know, getting to a single-payer system starting from where we are is — is quite difficult. So let's not throw the baby out with the bath. Let's stay focused on how we're going to deliver the highest-quality, most affordable health care right now.

And then you want to have a debate about something better and different, go ahead and have the debate.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You can watch the entire interview with Secretary Clinton online at PBS.org/NewsHour.

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