October 31st, 2007
08:20 AM ET
13 years ago

Clinton praises NY license plan, but won't endorse

Clinton's answer on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants drew fire.

PHILADEPHIA (CNN) - Democratic presidential contender, New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton said New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's controversial plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants "makes a lot of sense," but stopped short of endorsing the plan in Tuesday night's debate in Philadelphia.

At least one opponent accused her of "saying two different things in the course of about two minutes."

Asked about the proposal, Clinton said Spitzer is trying to find a solution to a bigger problem.

"We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally," Clinton said. "So what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.

"I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform."

Sen. Chris Dodd disagreed on issuing licenses to illegal immigrants, calling the plan "troublesome." He said, "a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view."

Moments later, Clinton said, "I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do ..."

Rivals on stage jumped on her answer. Dodd told her, "No, no, no. You said, 'yes.'"

Pressed to clarify her answer, Clinton said, "This is where everybody plays 'gotcha.' It makes a lot of sense.

"What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problems. We have failed. And George Bush has failed.

"Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No, but do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this.

"Remember, in New York, we want to know who's in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows."

Former Sen. John Edwards claimed her answer was inconsistent, saying "Unless I missed something, Sen. Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes, just a few minutes ago, and I think this is a real issue for the country.

"I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them."

Sen. Barack Obama said "I was confused on Sen. Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it and I do think that is important.

"One of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face. Immigration is a difficult issue, but part of leadership is not just looking backwards and seeing what's popular or trying to gauge popular sentiment."

Obama called the proposal "the right idea," but added, "That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration."

The Democratic presidential candidates next square off November 15 at CNN's debate in Las Vegas.

- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. therealist

    Unlike our pitiful Congress, insurance companies have already addressed illegal drivers. Its called uninsured motorists. Please repeat that with me Hillary, uninsured motorist. So, if Hillary's premise is bogus, her whole argument is bogus and we are left with nothing but her pro-illegal, pro-open boder stance.

    Bogus, a good word synonymous to Clinton.

    October 31, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Sonja San Francisco CA

    Oh, Hillary will firm up what she's for and against once she's in the White House and we can do nother about it. Her plans to destroy America will firm up nicely then.

    November 1, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  3. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    How about offering licenses to illegals, if only for the purpose getting their addresses on record, so we then know the correct locations to send the INS to begin the deportation process?

    Better yet, how about we teach Mexico how to run an economy so their citizens will have jobs and will no longer feel the need to risk life and limb coming here?

    Two both really great ideas that ACTUALLY solve problems. Hey, that all makes too much sense! How about instead, we simply grandstand and wring our hands over the problem? That seems to be the popular thing to do in Washgington anymore.

    November 1, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    I SUPPORT illegal aliens having drivers licenses....

    .... at least those that agree to immediately drive back to Mexico. Those that aren't able to drive, we should help with a plane ride.

    November 1, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |


    November 1, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Steve Wittlake Blaine Washington

    Uninsured mtorists only works if a small percentage of people are uninsured. If large amounts of people are uninsured than you have a disaster.
    People normally do not carry large limits of uninsured motorists unless of course they are rich. There is also underinsured motorists but people normally do not carry large limits of underinsured motorists unless they are rich. Either way you are putting a large burden on people that carry insurace to carry much higher limits to protect themselves from large numbers of illegal aliens driving.

    November 1, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Alma, St.Louis, MO

    Wow.... this little piece of cheese certainly brought you all out.

    Give it up...Hillary is our next President.

    November 1, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. Lily Smith Vidalia, Georgia

    And she did not say two different things on this. She did not endorse it, but like may others sooner or later we will have to do something like this in all states so we will know where these people are and they an be held responsible if any wrong doings. Makes sense.

    November 2, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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