Transcript: Hillary Clinton’s press briefing remarks after her speech on college affordability in Exeter, New Hampshire

Partial transcript of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s press briefing remarks after her speech on college affordability in Exeter, New Hampshire on Aug. 10, 2015:

Hillary Clinton:
Well, welcome to Exeter. Before we begin, I want to just say that my thoughts are once again with the people of Ferguson as they mark this painful anniversary and in light of the continuing violence that we saw last night.

You know, violence has no place in our streets, and we should all be working for peace and justice there and everywhere in our country.

I’d like to make two quick points and then take your questions.

First, in announcing my plan to put college within reach for everyone – the new college compact – I am emphasizing the two parts to this compact.

No family and no student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university.

And everyone who has student debt should be able to refinance it at lower rates.

Costs won’t be a barrier and debt won’t hold you back under my plan.

I wanted to make this announcement here in New Hampshire because students carrying one of the highest debt burdens in the country – nearly $33,000 for average graduates of four-year colleges but obviously much more as we heard from the last young man that I called on.

And the cost of community college here is twice what is paid, you know, next door in Maine.

Gov. [Maggie] Hassan is working to reverse the dramatic decline in state investment in higher education that has shifted the cost onto students and families. But that’s only the beginning of what needs to be done and certainly the federal government has to be a partner in moving this compact forward.

So, I’m looking forward to discussing this further tomorrow, then next week in Iowa and elsewhere.

Second, I want to add my voice to all those who have expressed outrage and disappointment about the decision last week by the Executive Council to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire.

It’s appalling that three men sitting in the chambers of the Executive Council would deny women across this state the health care they need and deserve.

It shows yet again why we need more leaders like Gov. Hassan and Sen. Shaheen who are willing to stand up for women and just how out of touch and out of date Republican leaders are.

That’s what we saw at the debate on Thursday night.

None of the candidates offered solutions for how to make college affordable or how to raise incomes for hardworking families. They don’t even talk about the real pressures facing American families.

And while what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of the Republicans are saying about all women is also outrageous. They brag about slashing women’s health care funding. They say they would force women who’ve been raped to carry their rapist’s child.

And we don’t hear any of them supporting raising the minimum wage, paid leave for new parents, access to quality child care, equal pay for women or anything else that will help to give women a chance to get ahead.

Megan Kelly is a strong woman and more than capable of defending herself against Donald Trump. 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 out about that today and through the rest of this campaign and the White House.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
You know, I’m looking forward to debating first my friends and colleagues on the Democratic side and then finally have a chance to debate the Republicans about whatever their nominee has to say.

I’m going to show up for the debates as they are scheduled and I look forward to having a robust, good opportunity to exchange views with my fellow candidates.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
I’m not going to get into scheduling. I’m just going to show up and when I’m told to show up, I’ll be there and looking forward to it.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
…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 and that debate said was offensive.

And I want people to understand if you just focus on maybe the biggest showman on the stage, you lose the thread here.

The thread is that the Republicans are putting some very radical and offensive positions when it comes to women’s lives, women’s reproductive health, women’s employment, women’s opportunities.

So I think we’ll let the Republicans go back and forth with each other. But I want to point out there really is not that much difference in the policies that they are proposing when it comes to American women.

Question:
[Inaudible]…On Joe Biden

Hillary Clinton:
I consider him a friend. We were colleagues in the Senate. I have the highest regard and affection for him. I spoke to him at his son’s funeral, and I think we should all just let the Vice President be with his family and make whatever decision he believes is right for him. And I will respect whatever that decision is.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
Well, the Republicans get to choose their nominee. 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 exceptions for rape and incest, that is as offensive and as troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidate 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’s just 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 going to let the fact that there should be no exceptions for rape or incest go unnoticed or unmentioned”. I’m not going to let that happen.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
…I said it was offensive. I said it was outrageous. I stand by that. I think more people should say the same. They should be going after him. The Republican Party is going to 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, 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 of the Republicans were to be successful, I don’t want that forgotten.

So yes, 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 us who’ve been doing this work for so long.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
You know, it’s entertainment. I mean, look, it’s all entertainment. He’s – 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 and against him.

Question:
[Inaudible]…On attending Donald Trump’s wedding

Hillary Clinton:
I didn’t know him that well. I mean, I knew him. I knew him, and 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.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
Not at all. I was proud to be endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers. I’ve been proud to work with nurses for many, many years on health care and better treatment for nurses.

I’m a strong advocate for nurses and I look forward to working with them when I’m President.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
Oh, really? What does Donald Trump have to say about college affordability? I would wonder.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
Yes, yes. Right. Well, first of all, that’s why you have a campaign. It’s going to be at the center of my campaign.

I hope that people running for Congress both the House and the Senate will latch onto it because I want to get more Democrats elected. That would be a big help toward to dealing with the issues you’re raising.

I also want to make it clear that what I’m advocating just as what President Obama advocated goes to back to what President Reagan – what the status was under President Reagan.

I want them to have to answer to the American people why they don’t want to make college more affordable and why they don’t want to refinance college debt.

This has to be a choice. And so what we’re doing is we’re setting up our side of the choice. We’re setting up, you know, the proposal that I’m making. And then I’m going to be looking to see what their response is and then let’s have an election about it and let’s have an election about real choices that will actually affect people’s lives. That’s what I’m interested in.

And once I get to the White House, I will do what I’ve always done when I worked across the aisle as a Senator, worked with Republicans when I was Secretary of State and First Lady. I will work very, very hard to put together the votes that are needed to try to get this passed. Because I think there will be a huge constituency for it.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Hillary Clinton:
Well, we’re in the middle of an election. I don’t know that we’ll hear that yet, but I will say this. Some of what Republicans in the Senate are trying to do is very connected to my plan.

If you look at some of what Sen. Lamar Alexander has been advocating, I have been looking for ideas from Republicans as well as Democrats. That’s where I get a lot of the thoughts about accountability for colleges and risk sharing. So if you’re going to pretend to educate people and they’re not employable, then you have to pay a price for that.

And I think Sen. Alexander, who I’ve known since he was a governor, I think he and I would have a great conversation about that. He has to do what he has to do between now and the election but I think there’d be an opportunity to work together and I would look forward to it.

Thank you all.

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