During the Democratic town hall that aired on CNN Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton completely fell apart onstage when Anderson Cooper asked her about $675,000 she received for delivering three speeches at Goldman Sachs.
Throughout the campaign, her opponent Bernie Sanders has criticized Clinton’s ability to deliver on her promises to crack down on Wall Street after taking more than $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in a year.
“Was that a mistake? Was that a bad error in judgment?” Anderson Cooper asked.
“Well, I dunno,” Clinton said. “That’s what they offered. Every secretary of State that I know has done that.”
Clinton’s remarks during the televised town hall may have given the impression she wasn’t very involved when negotiating speaking deals, but the truth is that she is actually a heavy-handed negotiator.
The Washington Post reported that when Clinton agreed to deliver a speech at the University of California Los Angeles in 2014, she charged the publicly-funded school $300,000. When school administrators asked for a discounted rate, Clinton’s handlers informed UCLA that $300,000 was the special, discounted rate for public universities.
They also fussed over what kinds of chairs she would sit in during an interview, and insisted that the school keep at least two pillows backstage in case she needed additional support. During a walkthrough five days before she was scheduled to give her speech, Clinton’s handlers demanded that the university get a new podium.
If her past behavior towards UCLA was any indication, it’s likely that Clinton was very involved in negotiating the $675,000 she received from the Wall Street investment bank.
Clinton will be in three more debates in the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary, which is a 180-degree pivot from her previous reluctance to participate in them. Some speculate that her sudden eagerness is an indication that she is trying to regain ground in early voting states after slipping in the polls, and that by debating Bernie Sanders she can boost her profile in New Hampshire, where she trails him.