Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, on a mini-book tour for the relaunch of her book, "It takes a Village," was interviewed on NBC's "Today Show" on Monday morning by host Meredith Vieira. Vieira pressed the New York Democrat, getting ready to make a 2008 White House run, her thoughts on her biggest rival at this time, Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat. Meanwhile, a Des Moines Register poll shows that former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is very much a factor, leading the Iowa Democratic caucus field at 36 percent to 16 for Clinton and 13 for Obama.
" Well, he's terrific. You know, he's a friend and a colleague, and I have a very high regard for him," Clinton said about Obama. Obama had similiar words of praise for her in the current Newsweek cover story about their brewing presidential candidacies. "Obviously, I'm looking at it," said Clinton.
click below for Clinton interview excerpts. and Des Moines Register poll story.
CLINTON: Well, I'm working hard to make a decision, and I will after the first of the year. I mean, it is really both very flattering and overwhelming to be looking at this. Maybe more than anybody else, I know how hard this job is. I saw it in an up-close and personal way for eight years. And I worry that whoever the next president is is going to face just a myriad of very difficult challenges. So I'm trying to approach this with a big dose of humility, number one, because it is going to be a hard job no matter who gets it.
VIEIRA: And what's the first question you ask yourself? You say you're going to wait till the beginning of the new year.
VIEIRA: But that's only a couple of weeks away. What's going to happen between now and then to make a decision?
CLINTON: Well, this is an intensely personal decision. You know, I'm very honored that people are urging me to run and saying they want to sign up. And yet at the end of the day, I want to be sure that my decision is right for me, for my family, for my party, for my country.
VIEIRA: Are you leaning in one way or another?
CLINTON: Well, you know, obviously I'm looking at it. I wouldn't be looking at it if I were totally uninterested.
VIEIRA: So you're leaning toward running then.
CLINTON: No, but I'm looking at it very hard. You're good, Meredith.
VIEIRA: You're definitely leaning to the left, the way you're leaning.
CLINTON: Yeah, that's right. I'll try to be right here in the center.
VIEIRA: How much of a say do your daughter and your husband have in all of this? How much do you take their feelings into consideration, their viewpoint?
CLINTON: Well, I think anybody takes their family into consideration. This is such a grueling endeavor that if you undertake it, if you don't have your family on your side and really urging you on, you can't do this. It's too much.
VIEIRA: Why wouldn't you run for president? I mean, the polls indicate that if you did run, you're the front-runner.
CLINTON: Right. Well, you know, I'm trying to weigh all the different factors. And, you know, one thing that I think is important is whoever the next president is has to hit the ground running.
I mean, with all due respect to our current president, he has dug us into some very deep holes as a nation.
You know, we've lost respect and admiration abroad. We have a huge deficit. We're having more and more people who are uninsured. We've got global climate change and energy dependence on dangerous parts of the world.
We really need to face up with kind of honest optimism. You know, I've always believed Americans can do whatever we set our minds to. We just haven't been asked to do anything in the last six years.
VIEIRA: But a lot of people, Senator, think that you also represent the past, and that's one of the reasons why Barack Obama is so popular with people. They say he represents the future. He says, you know, "Unlike a lot of people," like you and me, "I'm not a baby boomer." Obama says, "I'm younger. I want change." And that electrifies people.
CLINTON: Well, he's terrific. You know, he's a friend and a colleague, and I have a very high regard for him. Elections are always about the future. But that's up to the voters. People have to look at candidates. They have to weigh positions on issues. It really comes down a gut feeling when you're looking at someone, especially someone who could be president and commander in chief. And that's what elections are about and campaigns are about.
MS. VIEIRA: Do you think he would make a good president with his experience, or lack thereof?
SENnational dialogue. We're blessed this year with the people who are thinking of running. You know, we just lost one excellent candidate when Senator Evan Bayh said he wasn't going to run. And, you know, I would love to see a wide open race. Let as many people run on both sides, because this country needs the kind of debate that frankly we haven't had in a long time.
VIEIRA: Speaking about debate, let's talk a little bit about Iraq. Senator Harry Reid said over the weekend -- incoming Democratic majority leader -- that he would support a temporary increase in troops in the Baghdad area, temporary surge. The former secretary of State, Colin Powell, says he's opposed to that.
Where do you stand on that position? Do you believe we should send more troops into Iraq?
CLINTON: It depends, number one, what is the mission of those troops? I am not in favor of sending more troops to continue doing what our young men and women have been told to do, with the government of Iraq pulling the rug out from under them when they actually go after some of the bad guys. I am not in favor of doing that unless it's part of a larger plan.
Everyone knows there is no military solution to the difficulties we face in Iraq. There has to be a broad-based, comprehensive approach that includes resolving some of the political issues, bringing the region together.
I have an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today urging that they look at an oil trust, like what we did in Alaska when we found oil. Let every Iraqi share in the proceeds so that maybe they will feel a commitment to the future.
VIEIRA: But under some circumstances, you would potentially support more troops in Iraq.
CLINTON: Well, let's see the plan. You know, I'm not going to believe this president again. I did that once -- and a lot of us did, and it hasn't turned out very well.
VIEIRA: And you've been criticized for that, Senator, and you know that this is not something that you haven't been subjected to before. By voting to give the president the authority to use force in Iraq if necessary, some people feel that that was a mistake, that you made a mistake. Others senators who voted that way, like Senators Kerry and Edwards, have said, "We regret it; it was a mistake."
You refuse to say it was a mistake. Why?
CLINTON: people's lives are at stake. He should have let the inspectors do their job. That was what --
VIEIRA: But were you wrong to take that vote, to make that vote?
CLINTON: Well, you know, you have to go and look at the situation as we knew it then. And I take responsibility for that vote. Obviously if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote and I certainly wouldn't have voted that way.
VIEIRA: Senator Clinton, we have run out of time. When you plan to announce -- hopefully she'll do it here.
Edwards leads in poll of likely caucusgoers
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is in fourth place; Sen. Hillary Clinton is second.
By JANE NORMAN
REGISTER WASHINGTON BUREAU
December 14, 2006
Washington, D.C. - John Edwards came out far ahead of the rest of the pack of possible Democratic presidential candidates in a poll of Iowa Democrats conducted in October by an environmental group and released Wednesday.
Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the second-place finisher in the 2004 caucuses, was picked as the early preference of 36 percent of likely caucusgoers in the survey.
Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York came in second with 16 percent.
Third was Sen. Barack Obama with 13 percent, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack trailed in fourth place at 9 percent.
The survey of voters who said they definitely or probably would attend the January 2008 first-in-the-nation caucuses was commissioned by the advocacy group Environmental Defense and conducted by Harstad Strategic Research Inc. The poll of 602 Iowans from Oct. 12 to Oct. 19 had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Farther back in the poll were Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts at 6 percent, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware at 5 percent, retired Gen. Wesley Clark at 3 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at 2 percent.
The poll also found that 32 percent of the caucusgoers say global warming is an extremely serious problem.
Two more senators, Evan Bayh of Indiana and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, received too little support to be expressed as a percentage. Just 8 percent said they were undecided.
Some elements of the race have changed since the poll was completed. Vilsack has formally announced his entry, Clinton has begun reaching out to Iowans, and Obama last weekend traveled to New Hampshire.
Environmental Defense also commissioned a separate poll in October of Democratic county chairmen and chairwomen, and vice chairmen and vice chairwomen.
Among these Iowans most involved in party politics, the poll found even more enthusiasm for Edwards and a stronger sentiment for Vilsack.
That poll said 40 percent of county party leaders preferred Edwards, with Vilsack in second place at 15 percent, Obama with 11 percent and Clinton with just 8 percent.
The results of the caucusgoer poll were somewhat similar to those of an Iowa Poll conducted last summer by The Des Moines Register.
In that poll, Edwards was the choice of 30 percent of those who plan to attend the caucuses, while Clinton had 26 percent, Kerry had 12 percent and Vilsack had 10 percent.