August 10th, 2007
11:46 AM ET
4 years ago

Clinton lays in to critic at forum

Roland S. Martin: Did Hillary Clinton come off too strong or just right?

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) – I almost fell off my chair.

Pleasantries and politeness were off the table. It took the moderator nearly 30 seconds to calm down the crowd – the same length of time Sen. Hillary Clinton was supposed to take to answer the question. But the New York Senator took more than five times as long setting the record straight on her health care plan at the National Association of Black Journalists Presidential Forum Thursday.

I would find out later that the audience question came from a freelance writer named Kiara Ashanti, who wanted to know why the Democratic White House hopeful was pushing for, what he called, “socialized medicine.”

“Why are you still insisting upon moving that system in here when particularly it will hurt African American communities more than anyone else?” Ashanti asked.

“Oh, man – that was a string of misrepresentations about me and the systems in other countries,” Clinton began her response. “Number one, I have never advocated socialized medicine, and I hope all the journalists hear that loudly and clearly because that has been a right-wing attack on me for 15 years, and it is wrong.”

LISTEN to the Clinton exchange yourself.

From there, the two of them hammered it out, back and forth: “Do you think Medicare is socialized medicine?” she challenged him. “To a degree it is,” Ashanti said. “Well, then you are in a small minority in America because Medicare has literally saved the lives and saved the resources of countless generations of seniors in our country.”

Clinton went on to champion Medicare, but criticize the U.S. as the only “advanced country” to have “so many of its citizens without health care.” She punctuated her answer with a stinging, yet cordial invitation to Ashanti: “I don't know who you are. But you come introduce yourself to my staff and we will try to give you some information if you're interested in being educated instead of being rhetorical.”

It was an audacious move – the audience could have gone either way – but it paid off. The masses, largely, clamored around Clinton.

So, did Ashanti chase down Clinton’s staff and “get educated”? No, but I chased him down. I had to know who he was, and whether Clinton’s “tough love” resonated.

Ashanti said he was a freelance writer from Orlando, Florida, with his own political blog, and who has written for Black Enterprise,, and the Active Trader.

What did the writer think of her answer?

"Typical,” he told me. “This type of forum really works for her because there's not a lot of time to refute anything she says. That's what I expect. She's not looking at the real facts. She wants to do something that gains her political points.”

Then he added, “She can't deal with the fact that I have the knowledge to refute everything that she's saying."

- CNN contributor Roland Martin

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (501 Responses)
  1. Betty, Southlake, TX

    You tell them, Hillary! This lady is no pushover– she's a tough cookie who can hold her own.
    This "freelance journalist" was a shill who thought he could attack Hillary & get away with it... guess he found out differently. If he really had ANY real interest whatsoever in health care for the U.S., he would have jumped at the chance to meet with her staff. The fact that he didn't says volumes!

    August 10, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Leonard, Dallas TX

    Maybe what Kiara Ashanti wants is for the US to remain #37 in the world rankings in healthcare with close to 50 million people without insurance and at the same time having the most expensive healthcare system. He is either an idiot or is paid by a lobbyist to propagate an agenda. I am BLACK (and proud)I have experienced first hand what medical care is like in the US and abroad and I can tell you that a lot can be done to improve the current healthcare system. So for him to say that Hillary's healthcare plan will most negatively affect African American communities is preposterous.

    August 10, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Alfred, San German, PR

    In Puerto Rico, today, social medicine or as a better description, government sponsored medical care is practiced. The set of people who qualify for this is targeted toward low-income families - the poor. I know a few families who have shared their horror stories regarding government sponsored health care and their stories would break anyone’s heart. The main idea is that a primary Dr. is responsible and gatekeeper of all medical advises and costs. Along with this the doctor is paid by the government a predetermined small fee to handle all the associated services. What doctors have been forced to do with these patients in order to survive is to reduce visiting time to less than 5 minutes regardless of the medical need. They also limit the number of test performed and limit or deny referrals, as these costs will reduce the doctor's payment balance. The standard advice from doctors are something like, "Your tumor is not critical. If you should be admitted to a hospital for surgery, or if something serious happens, then we will look deeper into it. For now I’ll prescribe some aspirins for the pain." A friend spent years in pain and finally experienced such severe pain that she had to be admitted into the emergency room for surgery. The surgery had to be performed because in case of an emergency, the hospital does not need permission from the primary doctor. Does a human being have to reach this level of pain in order to be properly cared for? Who looses? The poor! I believe this system is a disaster, as they do nothing to help the poor, except maybe allow the poor to die quicker. From this perspective, I believe the freelance writer Kiara Ashanti has a very valid question. Unfortunately, Senator Hilary Clinton appears to have another view of government sponsored medical care that she did not wish to educate neither Kiara nor the public.

    August 10, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Dean Seigneur, Cleveland, OH

    Perhaps Ms. Clinton thinks "her" health plan is NOT socialized medicine but when one examines its principles, it is actually more "socialized" than those in the UK or Canada. If one thinks they are so great, one need only to look at the statistics of how many come to the U.S. and particularly Cleveland Clinic for medical care. Ms. Clinton could not even keep her husband happy, how will she keep America right? We need strong leadership...Condi Rice should be our next President!

    August 10, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Maria Burpee, Austin TX

    Ashanti and everybody should check out the movie "Sicko" it's really poignant. Yea it's Michael Moore and he has his momments but the examination of the health care system is really cool.

    August 10, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Lynn, Baltic, OH

    Why is it that if anyone questions Hillary and her motives, then they are automatically labeled "Republican" or "right-wing"? Why don't we all open our eyes and see our health-care system, Social Security, and Medicare for what it actually is – failed programs, begun mostly by Democrats, that need to be reformed? There are millions who don't have health-care by their own choosing, not because they can't afford it. Most people pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year, just for health insurance, while those who cannot "afford" it pay practically next to nothing for services they receive. Who pays for that? That's right – we do! Social Security may have been a good idea years ago, but will it be there when our generation gets older? Doubtful! We have too many politicians, on the left and the right, who can't seem to deal with it because we're in way over our heads. Wasn't it President Bush who proposed to reform S.S. several years ago, and was promptly scorned for supposedly making this a much bigger issue than what it is? And I will admit, Medicare has helped numerous people, but how many more "fellow Americans" are there out there that consistently abuse the system? Same goes for our welfare system! Whatever happened to the "Great Society," or the "New Deal," all programs originating from Democrats, that years ago were supposed to eliminate poverty, care for our ill,provide for our elderly, and wipe out social and racial injustice? Have these problems been solved? Nope! We still can't seem to get it right, so don't believe any politician, left or right-wing, who promises health care for everyone, and another "Great Society," because it just won't happen. There is too much politics in government, and not enough common sense. I, personally, do not want to depend on a government to govern my health choices and my retirement needs and tell me what is the best for me. If that's what you want, then vote for Hillary. She doesn't have my vote though. The less she is involved in my life, the better I say!

    August 10, 2007 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. VanReuter NY NY

    You think this thread would have almost 500 posts if it had been anyone other than Senator Clinton?

    August 10, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. David Sheffield Los Angeles

    Senator Clinton tried before to come up with sensible healthcare plan but she was shouted down by the insurance lobby. Guys like this clown Ashanti care more about a conservative ideology than they do people in need. Go get em, Hillary.

    August 10, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Robert A. Payton III, Mobile Alabama

    Now this is the type of response Americans and the world for that matter want to see from candidates. The passion in Hillary's voice on the subject as well as her response to the person's accusations displayed totally the leadership I expect to see in a presidential candidate.

    August 10, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. Grant, Kirkland, WA

    Any system which requires the majority (taxpayers) to pay for benefits given to the minority IS socialized. That's the very definition of the word! It's no different than any of the other entitlement systems that are ruining this country. We already have socialized health care in this country, and it is dreadful. Medicare and Medicaid are a joke, and they are far too costly for far too little benefit. Requiring employers to provide insurance is also a mistake. It raises the price of health care, since hospitals know they can charge the maximum, and it forces employers to cut costs anywhere they can, shipping our jobs overseas. I think the only person I've seen who actually has a plan for health care that has a chance of working is Ron Paul. We need to decouple insurance and employment, allow people to decide for themselves, and drive down costs. Instead of forcing me to pay a tax, then using that tax to pay for my health care, give me that money back and let me make my own decision on how I want to be treated.

    August 10, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Gert Jan van Wateringen, Groningen, The Netherlands

    I don't get many Americans. But many Americans don't get politics as well.

    We all can slam down Hillary Clinton, but isn't it true that America needs at least a more progressive Washington? More progressive politics? A more progressive-minded White House?

    Here in Holland, we enjoy a magnificent infrastructure: cycling lanes, burried electrical wires and cables, excellent bridge structures, dikes and impressive Delta Works. Alas, the American government seems incapable of bringing good solutions to these problems. Here on Dutch news we see: collapsing bridges in America, exploding steam sewers in NYC and a city, called New Orleans, that isn't properly protected by dams and dikes.

    The same goes with social health care system in Holland. The government subsidizes a good result. Everyone in Holland is compulsorily insured and will get a minimum wage from our government. Result: We don't get life-threatening situations in our hospitals when it comes down to people who are underinsured for social health care.

    Alas that is not the case in the Unites States of America. Please give her a chance. During the days of his husband's reign, she tried to do something about it, but she met with great opposition from right-wing politics. Hillary Clinton wants to do something about it.........and being a president, together with democratic majorities in both Senate and House, she will get excellent instruments to finally solve these social health care problems

    One thing is for sure: The more to the right you go into the political spectrum, the less people really want to solve these kind of health care problems. So don't get high hopes on Romney or Giuiliani for solving these problems.

    August 10, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  12. John from America

    Health care in America is so profit driven that the vast majority of Americans are being deprived of equal access to good health care. And what do you "GOP fools" advocate – free market – if your rich you can get healthy! It seems like any other solution for the majority of Americans is "socialistic" – really?" Well majority rules in this country and "bs" aside the GOP has no solution other than "us rich folks deserve better". Left wing my behind, you rich folks are sick in the head – GOP = "Greedy Old People" It's time the majority took control of this country!

    August 10, 2007 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  13. Jen Columbus, Ohio

    On a side note: I'm glad the majority of the people posting here articulated the need for more information. The American public would be much better served by clear, concise information rather than the he said/she said political rhetoric. The latter gets us nowhere but voting along party lines. Demand more information and vote for the person, not the party, you think will be a tremendous leader.

    August 10, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. Rachel, Charleston IL

    Wow. Well, maybe she has had to do some hard thinking in the years since she proposed "Hillarycare." I've never seen her incensed like this - reminds me of her husband's interview on Fox with Chris Wallace. But she held her ground just as well.

    Still, I agree it's annoying that she makes such an issue - as does everyone else - of the loaded term "socialized healthcare." It is what it is.

    Also – a serious question; I'm underinformed: How does universal healthcare hurt the poor and minorities?

    August 10, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  15. sulochanosho

    When I went through the reported tough exchange of words here, it made me feel that Sen. Hillary Clinton is no more a lady of freedom and fragrance but of high-dom and arrogance. Bulls and hills are inComments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

    Comments that do not include your name, city and state will not be posted.

    the forefront.

    August 11, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. Kim, Pueblo, CO

    It's disgusting how many times Clinton gets slammed on her attempts at coming up with a solution for the uninsured problem in the United States. Uninsured people in this country pose a huge problem; not only for themselves when the bills come in, but also for the hospitals who have to carry the burden.

    Do you think most people understand the importance of this issue? I don't. Not until they are in a hospital bed asking how they are going to pay the bill. Then it becomes important. Stop bashing Clinton for trying. It's more than anyone else has done or attempted to do. How simple minded to say "stop taxing the crap out of people...let them keep their money and make their own decisions." To think that is absolutely ridiculous. People generally don't make a decision to purchase health insurance..who are you trying to kid?

    August 11, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. martygrn

    I have sent to all the candidates for president a rather lengthy discussion of what is wrong with the system and how to fix it. I clearly point out why single-payer healthcare will not work and invite them to discuss my points with me. I am an RN who works in a Pediatric ICU, so I know the workings of the system from inside. How many have answered my email? none, not one. Most, I just end up on their campaign mailing list asking for donations. Even requesting donations ON THE BASIS of the fact they promote single-payer healthcare. Basically, they have their ideas and are not open to true discussion and debate, period.

    August 11, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Bill , Bloomington Il

    are people upset that Ms Clinton appears to be racist? If a white man from the republican party had said this there would be big accusations.

    August 11, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. Dozie, Blackwood NJ

    Clinton's response perfect! Ashanti should really get educated. To suggest that "socialized healthcare" or whatever name you choose to call it, will hurt blacks more is absolute nonsense! Rather the converse is the truth. The very poor will benefit best (white or black), and the influence of personal wealth or privilege will be diluted. It is probably not the best system (as it will at least hurt the earnings of healthcare workers, since I belong to this league), but it is a system sure to guarantee coverage for every American. More Americans need to have access to the best healthcare system in the world that the United States possesses. Forget political rhetoric, people like Ashanti should stop misinforming people, enlighten themselves and provide us with unbiased information with Clinton's planned healthcare reform and its similarity or differences with other first world countries where this same system has worked or failed.

    August 11, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Kate M, Los Angeles, CA

    This Roland Martin is a OBama presidential "campaign worker", promoting Obama in his CNN TV shows & commentaries. CNN should not give this "journalist" a forum to promote his biased views in nick picking Hillary Clinton. In my view, in comparision with Hillary, Obama has much much more flaws that Roland Martin has failed to point them out.

    I guess both blacks and from chicago helps.

    August 12, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    Hillary beats Obama hands down in terms of her experiences in:

    a) Domestic and international politics – Obama would unilaterally invade Pakistan, and sit with foreign dictators, YECK!

    b) Critical thinking skills while staning on own feet – This is clear in Hillary's last two NCNN debates.

    c) Presidential & leadership quality – During the CNN debates, she praied other democratic candidtes in general and Biden and Richardson in particular, while other candidates are bashing others.

    Accoridng to most recent polls. Hilliary is gaining support, while Obama is losing grounds. She is winnng, while the Obama supporters are whinning! To know her is to love her.

    Granted, Hillary has flaws, but they are too few to mention. No one is perfect, and she has been around for decades that some people may feel jealous of her. Familiarity (to Hiliary) breeds contempt, and distance (to Obama) lends enchantment.

    In my view, Hillary is the BEST of all presidential candidates of america, democrats or republicans.

    She has my vote, my wife's votes, my daughters' votes, and a good role model for all my grand-daughters!

    Hilary rocks. You go girl!

    August 12, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Jeff Ronthi, Commerce, MI

    He turned down an oppurtunity to have a one on one with her? What a journalist. Any blogger would have been jumping at the chance.

    Bottom line: He has his position on health care; she has hers. Neither can have their minds changed. He just wanted to take a shot at her.
    He's obviously not a pro.

    August 12, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    TERRY Drayton Valley Alberta :

    I don't know why your paying 40% plus in taxes due to having Government Sponsored/Medicare Health Care?? I have relatives in Alberta who do not pay 40% plus! I live in PEI Canada and I sure do not pay 40% plus in taxes to have Medicare. In fact one stay in a US hospital would likely triple my yearly tax amount!

    These are the facts with our PEI Medicare Coverage as I know them:
    I only take the time to list this information because I feel it would
    be regretable for Americans to pass up Government Subsidized Health Care
    due to being ill informed. If the Plan your politicians are speaking about is
    the same or similar as our Medicare Coverage you have much to gain and nothing to lose.

    Dr. Visits, Surgeries, Blood tests, Pap tests, Mammograms, Cat Scans,
    MRI Scans,Yearly Physicals, Transfussions, Hospital Stays and Care in regualar units, ICU or Progressive Care, Maternity Care and Delivery, Gynecologists appts,Bone Density X-Rays,General X-Rays,All Lab Work/Follow Ups/Treatments,Cancer Treatments/Chemo Therapy/Radiation,Out Patient Service and Emergency Services/Treatments, Referrals to Out of Province Specialists and treatments,
    Night Clinic Services, Kidney Dialysis, Surgically Implanted Pace Makers, are covered under Medicare.
    Physican Prescribed Dieticians for
    Heart Healthy/Diabetic/Celiac/ Consultations and Menu Plans are also Covered.

    Cost of drugs: Covered for Government Assisted Citizens. Senior Citizens have a Green Card Government Plan reducing prescription costs and eye exams. Middle Income Brackets can purchase Corporate Plans covering prescription costs, eye and dental care,Semi and Private Hospital Accomodations while still being elligible for the above Medicare coverage. I have purchased such a plan and my cost is not $400. per mo. I pay $135 per mo/for a family of two. If your work place has Employee Benefit Plan Packages you can enroll and still have the same services as above covered by Medicare.

    Those stating that in Canada: waiting times are six months and longer – IS UNTRUE where I live. Critical and Life Threatening Surgeries are given priority. All other Surgeries have a two week to one month waiting period.

    August 13, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  24. Yao, Boston MA

    This situation along with people's reactions to it have demonstrated what I feel to be characteristic of American politics today.

    Elections and politics isn't concerned so much with the absolute unvarnished truth, but rather the presentation and spin of that truth to serve a specific purpose. My impression is that the majority of American voters will not be basing their voting preferences on personal careful study of candidates' positions, or personal readings of candidates' published plans. How many among the people who have commented here are 1) willing to read through a 50 page policy proposal on healthcare reform, 2) if willing, able to understand and synthesize information contained to inform his/her personal opinion of the plan's efficacy? That is not to say that there aren't many voters who would do that, just not the majority in my opinion. In light of this, along with biased media coverage obssessed with the soundbyte, how can candidates seriously expect to explain the intricacies and subtleties of their positions to the majority of voters? It is impossible for them to have Q&A sessions with even a small fraction of voters, and therefore are forced to reach most through 10 second bytes in the news, 30 second commercials, and by way of print/internet median and the deluge of bloggers all of whom color the truth with their perspective.

    Add to this the fact that the in the current political environment of the country, where in the past 8 years, ideological and political divisions have become so salient, people so firmly entrenched in their us versus them mentality that discussion and compromise seem to be impossible.

    In this particular case of healthcare reform, why are people so antagonistic towards different points of view? The way I see it, one basic truth is that there are millions of uninsured or under-insured in this country, and even those who are insured, are sometimes victims of inefficiency and bureacracy. Another basic truth is that no system will be perfect, people inevitably get left out. The question we face is of 1) in what way can we change the system institutionally and 2) how much will it cost and finally 3) are we willing to pay that cost? If you were to ask people whether they supported making sure healthcare was available to everyone, I imagine most if not all would say yes. But if you asked them how much they were personally willing to pay or sacrifice, I imagine the answers would differ wildly. There are so many nuances in possible answers to those questions but the ability of candidates to explore them are constrained by the environment they are forced to operate under, when one sentence, one uttered suggestion, can spell instant condemnation. Unfortunately, the spin machine that runs political campaigns and the American voter's susceptibility to it make innovation impossible.

    August 13, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Harry, Niagra Falls

    I currently live in canada where we have universal healthcare "sort of"

    It is a waste, anyone who needs real surgery just heads to the US anyway.

    Dont be stupid, universal healthcare will never make it through congress....

    October 24, 2007 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
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