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Clinton jabs Republican field on immigration policy

Clinton says GOP field ranges from 'grudgingly welcome' to 'hostile' toward immigrants

Clinton jabs Republican field on immigration policy

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday assailed the Republican presidential field's stance on an immigration overhaul.

Asked about Jeb Bush, Clinton said: "He doesn't believe in a path to citizenship. If he did at one time, he no longer does."

In an interview with CNN, Clinton said the Republican presidential contenders range "across a spectrum of being either grudgingly welcome or hostile toward immigrants."

Campaigning in one of the most liberal pockets of Iowa, Clinton offered herself up as a Democratic standard-bearer at a time when her main Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has generated big crowds and stoked interest among progressives. Clinton also addressed criticism that she has avoided scrutiny, taking questions from reporters and then sitting down for her first national television interview since starting her campaign.

Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, cited her husband's eight years in office as a time of strong economic growth that helped not only the wealthy but the poor as well. She said Republicans afterward left President Barack Obama to tend to an economic crisis.

"Right now our country deserves to keep moving forward, not to do a big U-turn going back to where we came from," Clinton said at the Iowa City Public Library. "That didn't work before. It won't work again."

She told CNN she planned to outline some of her economic policies on Monday.

Clinton has said any immigration legislation needs to include a path to "full and equal citizenship." She has defended Obama's use of executive actions to shield millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

In the interview, Clinton said she was "disappointed" in Republican candidate Donald Trump for his disparaging comments in referring to Mexican immigrants as "criminals" along "with the Republican Party for not responding immediately and saying, 'Enough, stop it.'"

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, has said he is personally offended by his rival Trump's remarks about Mexican immigrants, He called the remarks far outside the mainstream of Republican thought.

Clinton demurred in discussing the possibility of another Bush-Clinton campaign -- Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in 1992 -- but lumped Jeb Bush in with other Republicans who have opposed immigration overhauls in Congress.

Bush, in his 2013 book "Immigration Wars," called for a process that would allow people living in the U.S. illegally to remain, as long as they take a series of steps. He wrote that withholding citizenship is a suitable penalty for those who have broken the law. Bush's co-author, Clint Bolick, said the former Florida governor would probably bend to support citizenship, if that was necessary to strike a deal on immigration.

Bush spokeswoman Emily Benavides said in a statement that Bush "believes in a conservative legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system that includes earned legal status for those currently in the country after they pay fines and taxes, learn English and commit no substantial crimes while securing our border."

During the CNN interview, Clinton defended her decision to delete some of her emails as secretary of state from her private email server, saying, "Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation."

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, responded Tuesday, saying "the committee does not know why or when she chose to wipe clean her personal server, but we do know her way of doing things provided an incomplete public record." The committee sought Clinton's emails as part of its investigation into the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Asked about Sanders, Clinton said she welcomed a contested race. "This is going to be competitive -- it should be competitive," Clinton said.


Thomas reported from Washington.

Updated : 2021-09-24 20:38 GMT+08:00