Were Clinton comments taken out of context?

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Bill Clinton is defending his wife Hillary Clinton by saying her recent comments on the former first family’s wealth were taken out of context by news outlets. 

The former president has criticized interviews with ABC News and The Guardian, which reported that Hillary Clinton said she and her husband were “unlike the truly well off” because the Clintons “pay ordinary income tax.”

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The former secretary of state and senator also told The Guardian that their wealth came “through the dint of hard work.”

Clinton allies have taken exception to the Guardian story, arguing the newspaper didn’t include statements Hillary Clinton made about she and the former president were “blessed.”

The Clintons also argue Hillary Clinton made the comments as part of a larger sentiment on income inequality and then went on to discuss her “record” on working for regular people, going back to my time in college and law school to know not only where my heart is, but where my efforts have been.”

The Hill obtained a copy of the transcript with The Guardian, which conducted the interview with Clinton early last week. Ed Pilkington, the reporter on the wide-ranging story, verified the authenticity of the transcript. 

Here’s the full transcript:

 

QUESTION:  Domestically, as you mentioned towards the end of the book, one of the key issues is inequality.


CLINTON:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Presumably whoever runs in 2016 will be talking a lot about that.  It’s come up already, but I did want to – it’s such a polar – another polarized issue.  Can you be the right person, were you to decide to run, to raise an issue like that when – with your own huge personal wealth, which is something that people have already started sniping about?  Is it possible to talk about that subject --


CLINTON:  Absolutely.

QUESTION:  -- when people perceive you as part of the problem, not the solution?

CLINTON:  But they don’t see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names, and we have done it through dint of hard work.  We know how blessed we are.  We were neither of us raised with these kinds of opportunities, and we worked really hard for them.  But all one has to do is look at my record going back to my time in college and law school to know not only where my heart is, but where my efforts have been.  I want to create a level playing field so that once again, you can look a child in the eye and you can tell them the truth, whether they’re born in a wealthy suburb or an inner city or a poor country community; you can point out the realistic possibility that they will have a better life.  But here’s what they must do:  It’s that wonderful combination of individual effort, but social support, mobility and opportunity on the other side of the equation.  So I’m willing to have that debate with anybody.

 

The interview with The Guardian and an earlier interview with ABC News in which Hillary Clinton said she and the former president were “dead broke” when the left the White House have hurt Clinton, who is seen as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Republicans have pointed to the comments to suggest that she is out of touch, and Bill Clinton has been doing damage control this week.

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