DETROIT — As a former first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is the most experienced and credentialed candidate now running for president. But voter discontent makes 2016 an unusually poor year for political credentials. At a time when most Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction, Clinton seeks a third-consecutive term for Democrats in the White House.
Adding to her challenge are an ongoing FBI probe into her email practices, and questions about her ability to inspire enthusiasm even among fellow Democrats. Her primary rival, Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has galvanized the support of young Democrats — even young women — despite the prospect that Clinton could become America's first female president.
Days before Michigan's primary on Tuesday, Clinton sat down with me at a manufacturing plant here where she announced a new proposal to crack down on companies shipping jobs overseas. What follows is a condensed, edited transcript of our conversation.
HARWOOD: How much difference do you think presidents make in the actual results in our economy?
CLINTON: Presidents make a huge difference. Let's just talk about the last two Democratic presidents. My husband inherited the quadrupling of the national debt in the prior 12 years. At the end of his eight years, we had balanced budgets and surpluses. That didn't happen by accident. That wasn't some deus ex machina intervention. We had the longest peacetime expansion in modern history. We had incomes going up for everybody. We lifted people out of poverty — far more than were lifted out under Reagan's presidency.