In her third national television interview since launching her campaign, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump’s candidacy “an unfortunate development.”
Speaking to NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Friday, Clinton lamented the Republican frontrunners’ influence on the race and addressed questions about her controversial personal email server.
“I think it’s an unfortunate development in American politics that [Trump’s] campaign is all about who he’s against, whether it’s immigrants, or women broadcasters or other candidates,” she said. “He is the candidate of being against. The vision I have for America is how we come together.”
Clinton was asked about Trump’s recent attacks on her close aide, Huma Abedin, who is married to former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. Trump said Huma is married to “one of the great sleazebags of our time.”
“He’s attacked so many people including my close aide and myself and many other people,” Clinton responded. “I can take that, that’s just par for the course. I do regret he is going after so many people, many of them by name, from great basketball players to people who express different opinions from him.”
While the Republican have borne the brunt of Donald Trump’s attacks, the real estate mogul has also lashed out at Clinton, calling her use of a private email server “a criminal problem,” saying that what she has done is “far worse than what General Petraeus did.” (There is no criminal investigation into Clinton’s email use.)
“He’s great at innuendo and conspiracy theories and really defaming people,” Clinton said. “That’s not what I want to do in my campaign and that’s not how I’m going to conduct myself.”
Clinton has given relatively few interviews since joining the 2016 race for president in April, speaking with Univision and CNN earlier this year. She has been hounded by questions about her use of a personal email sever as Secretary of State, which critics and Republicans say reflect a cavalier attitude toward sensitive information and government transparency.
During the interview, Clinton expressed regret over her use of a private email server which contained information the State Department and other agencies now deem as classified.
In the past, her response to questions on the subject has ranged from defensiveness to scoffing, even as her trustworthiness among Americans has sagged. Clinton’s tone on Friday was contrite but not overly apologetic.
“At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions,” Clinton said. “And I take responsibility and it wasn’t the best choice.”
She also repeated her assertion that as Secretary of State she did not send or receive information marked as classified on her private server.
Republicans were quick to criticize the Democratic frontrunner after her interview. “What’s clear is Hillary Clinton regrets that she got caught and is paying a political price, not the fact her secret email server put our national security at risk,” RNC spokesman Michael Short said in a statement.
On Friday, Clinton also sought to paint a picture of herself as a composed, hardworking candidate in contrast to the hubbub of a presidential race dominated by Donald Trump. Clinton is often criticized by supporters and critics alike of being guarded and self-censoring during public events, creating the appearance of a carefully managed candidate in contrast to the freewheeling Trump.
During her interview on Friday, Clinton defended her own caution.
“Sometimes people say I’m careful about what I say. That’s because for more than 20 years, I’ve seen the importance of the president of the United States as a leader not only of our nation, but of the world,” Clinton said. “Loose talk, threats, insults, they have consequences. So I’m going to conduct myself as I believe is appropriate for someone seeking the highest office in our country.”
And in a subtle dig that may have also been aimed at Bernie Sanders, the firebrand Vermont senator who has surged in the polls and attracted huge crowds across the country, Clinton presented herself as the workhorse candidate comfortable with the nitty gritty of governing.
“I really trust the American people. I trust them to assess who will really get up and fight for them, not just give a speech for them, not just appeal to their emotions but work to put a coalition together.”
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