Hillary Clinton praised U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi for courting black Democrats’ votes to save his Republican nomination for re-election, calling it “what you’re supposed to do.”
Clinton, in an interview airing July 5 on C-SPAN’s BookTV, said she was “actually quite taken” with the Mississippi runoff because of the bipartisan electorate it drew. She described Cochran as “just a great gentleman.”
He “expanded the base of the Republican Party in order to win his primary,” Clinton said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re not supposed to just reach out to those who already agree with you. In fact, I think one of the problems in our country today is we’re not talking across our ideological partisan lines.”
Cochran sought crossover votes from Democrats, as allowed in some states’ primaries, to win the June 24 runoff after placing second in a primary three weeks earlier to Chris McDaniel, who has the backing of the small-government Tea Party movement. The runoff was required after none of the three primary candidates won more than 50 percent of the vote.
McDaniel and his supporters are contesting the results and accusing Cochran’s campaign of stealing the runoff.
Compromise, Clinton said, “should not be a dirty word. It shouldn’t be a fighting word. It should be an accepted reality that, in our democracy, that’s what it takes to make decisions and move forward.”
Clinton, who served with Cochran in the U.S. Senate and later worked with him as President Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State, is promoting her memoir, “Hard Choices,” as she considers a run for president in 2016.
In the C-SPAN interview, Clinton urged Americans to “elect people who believe in compromise. There are a lot of candidates, and even some elected officials, who proudly say they’ll never compromise; they have the truth. Now I am a person of faith, but I don’t think any human being has the truth.”
Clinton also defended her work at the State Department to try to avert the crisis now unfolding in Iraq, where Sunni extremists are threatening to collapse Nouri al-Maliki’s government. “We were constantly stressing: Maliki has to be more inclusive” of the different religious and ethnic groups, she said.
The fighting in Iraq “is primarily a political problem that has to be addressed,” Clinton told C-SPAN’s Steve Scully. “The ascension of the Sunni extremists, the so-called ISIS group, is taking advantage of the breakdown in political dialogue and the total lack of trust between the Maliki government, the Sunni leaders and the Kurdish leaders.”
(An earlier version had the incorrect date for the runoff.)