CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper kicked off Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate by grilling the party’s front-runner, Hillary Clinton, on her alleged reversal of positions on a host of issues.
After candidates’ introductions, Cooper turned to Clinton and confronted her over perceived shifts in positions on immigration, same-sex marriage, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
“Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency,” he said.
“Will you say anything to get elected?”
Clinton rejected Cooper’s characterization.
“Actually, I have been very consistent over the course of my entire life. I have always fought for the same values and principles,” she said. “But like most human beings, including those of us who run for office, I do absorb new information. I do look at what’s happening in the world.”
That answer didn’t satisfy Cooper, who then questioned Clinton over whether she identified as a “progressive” or a “moderate” – she has used both descriptions on the campaign trail.
“Secretary Clinton though, with all due respect, the question’s really about political expediency. Just in July, New Hampshire, you told a crowd quote, ‘You’d take a backseat to no one when it comes to progressive values.’ Last month, in Ohio, you said you’d plead guilty to quote ‘being kind of moderate and center.’ Do you change your political identity based on who you’re talking to?” Cooper said.
“No, I think that like most people that I know, I have a range of views but they are rooted in my values and my experience. I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment,” Clinton retorted.
“Just for the record, are you a progressive or are you a moderate?” he said.”I’m a progressive but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done,” Clinton said. “And I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground.”