Clinton: Brat ran against immigrants

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) lost his primary election to a candidate who “basically ran against immigrants” and called for a “more informed” debate on immigration reform.

"The negative attitudes about immigration and immigrants, which we are seeing played out in certain places in our country politically are based on a gross misunderstanding," Clinton said during an interview in Chicago with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 

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Cantor was defeated Tuesday night in a stunning upset by his primary opponent Dave Brat, an economics professor. Brat accused Cantor, who has backed some immigration reform, as a supporter of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

In an interview Wednesday, Brat said the issue of immigration was central to him ousting the majority leader.

“Amnesty, at the end, was the clear differentiator between myself and Eric Cantor,” he said, adding that Cantor was out of touch with his district. 

Clinton, though, slammed Brat’s stance on immigration.

"[Brat's] argument was this: There are Americans out of work, why should we allow immigrants into our country to take those jobs," Clinton said. "I think that is a fair question. But the answer is not to throw out of work and deport the 11 million immigrants who are contributing already to our country. The answer is to grow our economy to create more jobs."

Clinton said many immigrants come to the country starting at the bottom and work their way up with education. Speaking about farm labor, she said, "There are many Americans who don't want to do that work."

Clinton, who spoke about immigration reform on Tuesday night as well, said she supports the comprehensive Senate immigration bill passed last year, which stalled in the House.

House Republican leaders, including Cantor, have opposed the bill that would give a path to citizenship to many of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, and insisted they would tackle immigration reform piecemeal.

Clinton called the deal a “fair compromise to begin to set out the ground rules for immigration going forward, but also [for] those who are already here.”

The former secretary of State hit on a number of topics in her wide-ranging interview with Emanuel, who formerly worked for her husband in the White House and also for President Obama as chief of staff.

Clinton, who is promoting her new book, said some world leaders might not be happy with their portrayal, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

She spoke about her attempt to push other less informed countries along on gay rights issues, and called Russia's anti-gay laws a "cynical ploy."

"Some are just cynical," she said. "Like what Putin is doing in Russia with all these laws against the LGBT community. That is just a cynical political ploy. I have had shouting matches with top Russian officials about this."

She also defended feminism, saying those who think it is a term of the past have not "lived long enough."

"Look in the dictionary,” she said. “A feminist is someone who believes women should have equal politically, economic, social, cultural rights. I don't see anything controversial about that at all."