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Univision Network Democratic Presidential Debate


Location: Miami, FL



MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton, do you consider that there's a political risk in participating in this forum?

SEN. CLINTON: Oh, not at all. I'm very proud, as a senator from New York, to represent such a dynamic and vibrant Latino community. And so I see this as part of the ongoing forward progress of America. We have been a nation of immigrants, and we are a country that has welcomed people. And I hope we will continue to do so. Certainly I'm running for president in large measure because I believe that we have to bring our country together and we have to have respect for one another.

And I hope to be able, as president, once and for all, to deal with the immigration issue.

But for me, this is not only an opportunity, it's a privilege to be here at the University of Miami, in a state that is one of the most exciting places in our country and to speak directly about the issues that affect not only the Latino community but all Americans and to speak also about what we need to do to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Latin America. So I thank Univision for this opportunity to be here. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Senator Clinton, the same question: For the -- in the next few days, we'll have a report from General Petraeus. If the troop surge has had partial success in Iraq, would you still withdraw from Iraq?

SEN. CLINTON: I was against the surge when it was first proposed. And I believe that nothing which General Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker or anyone else coming before the Congress will say next week will in any way undermine the basic problem: There is no military solution. That has been said for years now. And that is why I believe we should start bringing our troops home.

That however does not in any way suggest that our young men and women in uniform have not performed magnificently and heroically, because they have. (Applause.) They were asked to do what they do best, which is to try to provide some amount of stability or security to give the Iraqi government the time and space to do what the Iraqis must do. Unfortunately despite the heroism of our American forces, the Iraqi government has not reached any kind of political reconciliation. Therefore we need to quit refereeing their civil war and bring our troops home as soon as possible. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator. (Applause.)

Senator Clinton, you also voted in favor of the wall. Why on the Mexican border and not on the Canadian border?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, actually, I do favor much more border patrolling and much more technology on both of our borders, and in certain areas, even a physical barrier, because I think we've got to secure our borders. That has to be part of comprehensive immigration reform.

I have championed comprehensive immigration reform, and it includes starting with securing our borders in order to give people the support they need to come over and support us when it comes to having a pathway to legalization. We all know that this has become a contentious political issue. It is being demagogued, and I believe that it is being used to bash immigrants, and that must stop.

The Republican candidates need to understand that they are doing a great disservice to our country. We want to work in a bipartisan way, insofar as possible, to have comprehensive reform -- employer verification, more help for local communities so that they can pay for schooling and hospital and other expenses that they have to bear because of the immigration crisis. And the federal government needs leadership, and I will provide that as president.


MODERATOR: Senator Clinton, immigration reform the first year?

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. And I think there are three different aspects of this. Number one, we do need to work with the Congress to get legislation that is comprehensive. I am proud to work with my friend, Senator Menendez, on trying to make sure that in the process of doing immigration reform, we don't separate families, we try to have family unification as one of the goals. So in addition to giving people a path to legalization, we want to make sure their families can come along with them.

Number two, there does have to be an intensive effort with our friends to the south to see how the United States can once again be a partner, a partner with a relationship based on mutual respect, where we work together to find ways that we can help them address the needs of the people living in the countries to the south.

And finally, we have to educate the American people about why immigration, as important as it was when my family came through into Ellis Island, it is just as important today.

So I will take on each of those challenges and in my first year begin to address immigration successfully. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you.

Senator Clinton, the negative tone of the immigration debate has left the country polarized and has created certain racist and discriminatory attitudes towards Hispanics, including legal residents and citizens of Hispanic origin. What would you do to curb anti- Hispanic, anti-Latino sentiment in particular?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think this is a very serious problem, and as I said earlier, there are many in the political and frankly in the broadcast world today who take a particular aim at our Latino population. And I think it's very destructive. It undermines our unity as a country. It is unfair to so many of the millions -- hardworking Latinos that I know, that work for me. My campaign manager is a Latina. And I will do everything I can to stand against this. I'll speak out against it, as I have as a senator. I will speak out against, as I have running for the presidency.

There was a particularly egregious example of that in the House- passed bill last year. When the House passed a bill, they tried to criminalize anyone who helped an illegal immigrant, anyone who gave them medical care, any church that opened up to give them food at a dinner or breakfast. And I said that I would have criminalized the Good Samaritan. It would have criminalized Jesus Christ.

We have to say no, we are a nation of immigrants --

MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

SEN. CLINTON: -- and we will respect and treat one another with dignity. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

This is the chance to speak about Cuba now. Senator Clinton, what do you think would happen in Cuba without Fidel Castro? And what role would the U.S. play after his death or in that transition?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, the Cuban people deserve freedom and democracy, and we're all hopeful that that can be brought about peacefully. It appears as though the reign of Castro is reaching an end. We don't know what will follow Fidel Castro, but we need to do everything we can to work with our friends in Latin America who are democratic nations, with the Europeans and others, to try to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy and freedom for the Cuban people.

Now, that requires that we work with the entire hemisphere. You know, in 1994 I remember being here in Miami when my husband hosted the Summit of the Americas.

At that time, there was only one anti-democratic, anti-American leader in the hemisphere, namely Castro. Look at what we face today because of the misguided, bullying policies of this president. So let's reverse it and get ready for freedom in Cuba! (Cheers, applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

Senator Clinton, as first lady, your attempt to establish universal health insurance failed. What did you learn so you can be successful the next time?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I am very proud that we tried to provide universal health care to every American back in 1993 and 1994, and -- (applause).

I learned a lot from that, and I'm going to be presenting a plan next week that will be universal. It will cover everyone, and it will make it clear that we as a rich nation with the values that should be the best in the world will once and for all make it absolutely positive that everyone will have health care.

Now it's not only about the 47 million uninsured. Millions of insured Americans don't get the health care they paid for. We have a lot of people who -- (applause) -- all of a sudden their child needs an operation and the insurance company won't pay for it. I had an NYPD detective, a Latino with a very important job in the New York City Police Department, call me up distraught because the insurance company wouldn't pay for his two-year-old daughter's, you know, operation. It just brought tears to my eyes.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, we're going to make it clear that there will be no parent who ever is told no when it comes to getting health care for their children. (Applause.)


MODERATOR: Thank you.

Many people are losing their homes in the United States, Senator Clinton. One out of every 12 Hispanics will lose their home because of the mortgage crisis. What's the role of the federal government to play to ensure that the American dream is not lost?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, this is a serious problem for all Americans, but it's particularly serious for Hispanics, because, as Jorge said, unfortunately about 40 percent of Hispanic homeowners have subprime mortgages. And given what's happening in the market, if the federal government does not step in and take steps to prevent foreclosure, millions of Americans and many Hispanics will lose their homes.

So I think we have to do several things. We've got to have some intervention by the federal government. My friend Chris Dodd is the chair of the important Banking Committee in the Senate; he's working to try to come up with some solutions that we'll be able to get through the Congress which I support. A number of us have ideas. But we've got to get a time-out, we've got to try to persuade the mortgage companies and the banks to slow down their march toward foreclosure, give people a chance to renegotiate their loans. Maybe they can rent instead of own. We've got to get the federal government, the Federal Housing Administration and what are called Fannie Mae and Fannie (sic/Freddie) Mac, two other federal government organizations, involved in trying to make this happen. But we must move, because otherwise, we'll see millions of people out on the street, and we've got to stop that.


MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

Senator Clinton, the greatest contribution of Hispanics in this country?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, of course there are Hispanic-American families that have been in this country for 500 years, so I think it's important to realize that from the very beginning before America was a nation Hispanics were contributing, and that has continued right up to the present moment. And there isn't any one way to describe it because it is about all of us. There is as much variety as among the Latino community as there is among Americans in general. There is commonality in terms of values and this faith in the future.

But when I look at the Latino community today, I see leaders in religion and in the military and academia and the professions and sports and entertainment.

Every part of our society is the richer because of these many contributions from millions of Latinos. And I am very proud to have worked with over the years so many Latinos who believe, as I do, that our task in America is to continue to make our country what is was meant to be -- to keep faith with the past in order to create a future worthy of our children. And so I thank all of you for taking your time to watch this program, and I look forward to earning your support in this presidential campaign.

Thank you all very much. (Cheers, applause.)


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