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Hillary Clinton Responds to Bernie Sanders’ Remark That She’s “Condescending” to Young People

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Thursday, April 14th, 2016
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While on the campaign trail in Las Vegas, a young girl asked Hillary Clinton, “If you’re elected the girl president, will you be paid the same as the boy president?'”

Said Clinton, “Well, I think so.”

The Democratic front-runner told this story to a crowd gathered for a round-table discussion on equal pay sponsored by employer review company Glassdoor on Tuesday morning, the one-year anniversary of her presidential campaign. Clinton, who as a senator co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009 to protect women against pay discrimination and introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to Congress, sought to dispel a few basic myths about the gender wage gap (on the idea that it doesn’t exist, she said, “Well, that is just wrong”). In honor of Equal Pay Day, she joined panelists like U.S. women’s soccer team World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe (who, with several of her teammates, recently filed a complaint demanding equal pay) and Make It Work Campaign co-founder Tracy Sturdivant to talk about cultural biases that result in devaluing women in the workplace, how to hold managers and employers accountable, and how boosting the minimum wage and mandating paid leave will help narrow the gap.

After the event, spoke to Clinton over the phone about equal pay in her career, gender equality in a Hillary Clinton administration, and why she believes she is “tough enough” to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Women are often advised to figure out if we’re earning enough, to discuss our salaries with other men and women. Have you compared notes on your paychecks over the years, and if so, what did you find?

Well, I think that’s a great question, and I hope that more people will begin to address that. Over the years, I learned in the jobs that I had where I stood relative to others who were working with me. A few times, I had jobs that were public jobs, so the compensation was public information, but in the private sector, I was a lawyer and I, at the very beginning of my career, did not know where I stood in terms of pay, but as I got more experience and more confidence about my work, then I felt much more free to ask and so I did to find out where I stood.

So when did you start asking those questions?

Probably my — trying to go backward in time here, probably my early 30s.

Dating as a feminist can be tough. Do you think that men and women should split the bill on a date?

Look, I think splitting the cost on a date has to be evaluated on a kind of case-by-case basis. You know, many years ago I remember doing that, and I know a lot of young people who even today do because they kind of consider more casual dates, group dates, to be ones where everybody pays their fair share, but I think you also have to be alert to the feelings of the person that you are dating. If it’s important to that person to either split in the beginning of the relationship, or for one or the other of you to pay for whatever combination of reasons, you know, you just have to evaluate that and take it into account. So I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule, at least that I have ever seen followed in every instance.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won praise by making his Cabinet 50 percent women. Do you think that’s an important commitment to make, and would you make a commitment to have at least 50 percent women in a Clinton administration Cabinet?

That is certainly my goal. A very diverse Cabinet representing the talents and experience of the entire country. And since we are a 50-50 country, I would aim to have a 50-50 Cabinet.

Some people have been upset by a racially charged joke that you and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made over the weekend, especially in context of a recent altercation between Bill Clinton and Black Lives Matter supporters. Upon hearing the criticisms, do you think the joke was inappropriate or, as Mayor de Blasio said, are people “missing the point”?

Well, look, it was Mayor de Blasio’s skit. He has addressed it, and I will really defer to him because it is something that he’s already talked about. [Editor’s note: De Blasio told CNN on Monday, “It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show. The whole idea was to do the counterintuitive by saying ‘cautious politician time.’ Every actor thought it was a joke on a different convention. That was the whole idea. I think people are missing the point here.” His office later released a statement saying, “In an evening of satire, the only person this was meant to mock was the mayor himself, period. Certainly no one intended to offend anyone.”]

You just released an ad in which you say you are “tough enough to stop Trump.” But so far, Donald Trump has been unstoppable. Why do you think it will be different for you?

Well, first of all, I’m already beating Donald Trump. I have a million more votes than he does, and we’ve competed in the same contest. Obviously we’ve drawn different voters, but my voter base is deeper and broader than his. I believe that what he is saying and what he is representing is a very dangerous trend for our country. So even though I am working hard to secure the Democratic Party nomination, I am going to keep speaking out against him, calling him out. I was the first person who called him out after he was nominated and he began to insult so many different groups of people, starting with calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I spoke to a large group, I said “basta” which is Spanish for “enough.” So I have been taking the lead and holding him accountable. I think much of what he says is not only offensive and even shameful, but it’s dangerous. He is now making it difficult for our leadership in the world to continue, to stand strong for our values when he says things like, you know, let Japan and South Korea have nuclear weapons. We’ve been trying to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons for decades. When he says, “Let’s pull out of NATO,” people in Europe don’t know what to think. When he says, “Stop Muslims from coming to our country,” Muslim nations don’t know what to think. What he is saying is dangerous to our security and our standing in the world.

You recently said you feel sorry for young people who believe that you take money from fossil fuel companies. Bernie Sanders then criticized these comments as “condescending” to young people. This is a criticism that has been waged against you before from his campaign and others, particularly regarding Millennial women. Considering Sanders’s appeal among Millennials, how do you respond to his criticism that you were talking down to young people?

Well, he’s criticized me for so many things in the last week, I’m not going to respond to his comments. I will say this. I’m excited that so many young people are involved in this campaign. I think it’s great if they support me, if they support Senator Sanders, the fact that they are committed to being part of the political process is a great development. And for those who don’t support me, I’m going to support them. I’m going to make sure that what I promote in my campaign, what I will work on if I’m fortunate enough to be president, will be to give every young person in this country the chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them. But I do believe that it’s important not to accept at face value what any candidate says. You know, PolitiFact just did an independent analysis of where the candidates stood on being factual, and I was found to be the most factual, the most accurate, of any of the candidates running, above Senator Sanders and all of the Republicans. I really try to be accurate. People may disagree with me, and that is everyone’s perfect right. But I think it’s important to get the facts, and [according to] the independent assessments, the claims that the Sanders campaign has been making about big oil and fossil fuel have been determined to be false. And I want people to know that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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