As GOP readies for debate, Clinton calls for 'common ground'

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Amid intensifying criticism from her presidential rivals, Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a plea for "common ground" on Wednesday, saying politicians of all stripes have to come together to tackle big challenges facing the country.

"We're all on the same team, Republicans or Democrats or whatever we will call ourselves," Clinton said. "If you're looking for someone to say what is wrong with America, I'm not your candidate. I think there is more right than wrong."

She added: "I don't think we have to make America great. I think we have to make America greater."

The remarks themselves were a not-too-disguised reference to two of her rivals: Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-identified Democratic socialist, and Republican Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is "Make America Great Again."

Clinton spoke at the outset of a two-day campaign swing through New Hampshire, and just hours before the third Republican debate of the primary season. Those events have featured plenty of attacks on the former secretary of state, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by St. Anselm College, she called for Congress to work across the aisle on a series of "sensible ideas," including passing a highway bill and reauthorization of charter of the federal Export-Import Bank. The bank helps overseas buyers get financing to purchase U.S. exports like airplanes and heavy equipment.

The House voted late Tuesday to revive the bank, whose charter expired June 30. Conservatives have opposed renewing it, attacking it as a provider of corporate welfare.

"You'd think it would be no-brainer, Republicans and Democrats have worked on this for decades," Clinton said. "It became a political football for ideological or political reasons."

She also voiced support for taking a "hard look" at the application of the death penalty, though she stopped short of advocating for abolishing the punishment.

"I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I'd like to see those be very limited and rare," she said, in response to an audience question.

Her backing of the federal bank and continued support for the death penalty put her at odds with Sanders and her other primary rival, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"The death penalty is racially-biased, ineffective deterrent to crime, and we must abolish it," said O'Malley, in a statement noting that he eliminated the punishment in Maryland as governor.

Sanders has long opposed capital punishment, while Clinton said the measure had her "unenthusiastic support" during her 2000 Senate run. He also supports dramatically overhauling or eliminating the Export-Import bank, saying it provides unnecessary government aid to multi-national corporations.

Since Clinton's well-received performance at the first primary debate, his aides have signaled that Sanders will begin targeting her record in a more aggressive way.

They believe Clinton twisted his remarks about people "shouting" over gun control into a suggestion he was being sexist -- an implication that they consider the first negative attack of the campaign.

"Sometimes when a woman talks, some people think it's shouting," an energized Clinton told supporters in Northern Virginia last Friday. "I won't be silenced."

While Sanders has wooed the Democratic base with his liberal positions on issues of income inequality and college debt, he's had to defend positions on firearms that reflect his rural, gun-friendly home state.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Sanders backed all the Democratic gun bills brought up in Congress. But in 1993, he voted against the landmark Brady handgun bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period for gun purchasers.

Sanders now says he supports banning assault weapons and closing the so-called gun show loophole that exempts private, unlicensed gun sales from background check requirements.


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