Hillary Clinton admits she wasn't in top form at last week's MSNBC debate, adding that the performance critics have called defensive and evasive ranked among her poorer showings in the campaign to date.
"I wasn't at my best the other night," Clinton told CNN's Candy Crowley Tuesday afternoon. "We have had a bunch of debates, and you know, I wouldn't rank that up in my very top list."
A subdued Clinton looking tired and sounding a bit hoarse appeared in the CNN mobile studio in Iowa as part of the network's daily Situation Room program.
"I understand the necessity for criticism," Clinton said. "We're getting toward the end of a very long presidential primary process."
Clinton was roundly criticized by her Democratic opponents after the debate for appearing to waffle on issues such as New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer's plan to offer driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and for dodging questions about the release of National Archive documents related to her husband Bill Clinton's presidency.
On the subject of immigration, Clinton maintains she supports, "What governors are trying to do. And governors are on the front lines because of the failures to get comprehensive immigration reform. There are already eight states that issues driver's licenses without any verification of citizenship."
"It depends upon what state they're in, it depends upon what [state leaders] think the risks are," Clinton told Crowley. "The governor of New York has a lot of immigrants, many of whom we know are not there legally; [he] has to worry about security. A governor of another state where that's not a problem doesn't.
"This issue has been so politicized," Clinton continued, "and I understand that, because you can score points, you can score all kinds of political, demagogic points."
Crowley also pushed Clinton on the release of the archived documents from her days as First Lady.
"There have been a lot of misunderstandings," Clinton said. "Archives takes possession and control of presidential records -- they by law actually have to look at every record before its release.
"Bill has gone further than any other president ever in saying 'speed up the process, put things out, do it as quickly as possible,' " Clinton claimed. "But they have to follow the law and he's never ever said we're not going to put something out. We have tried and, as I said, he has done more than any other president and has never withheld any document that has been processed to be ready to be released."
Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced earlier this week that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to obtain records related to the National Task Force on Health Care Reform, a “Cabinet-level” task force chaired by Hillary Clinton when she was first lady. The records at issue are among those archived at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Clinton also responded to charges by Democratic rival Sen. Joe Biden earlier in the week that Bill Clinton would serve as de facto vice president if Hillary won the White House.
"That's going to be news to my husband," Clinton said, laughing.
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