In report on debate "back-and-forth," CNN's Crowley rearranged Clinton's quotes

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

On the 4 p.m. ET segment of the October 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, reporting on the October 30 Democratic presidential debate, purported to show a "back-and-forth on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as proposed in New York" by Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), but aired quotes by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) out of order, falsely suggesting that Clinton had directly contradicted herself.

The following is the transcript from the CNN report. The portion in all capital letters actually came later in the debate than the portion it precedes in CNN's report:

CROWLEY: And there was this back-and-forth on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as proposed in New York.

CLINTON: IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE. WHAT IS THE GOVERNOR SUPPOSED TO DO? HE IS DEALING WITH A SERIOUS PROBLEM.

[cut indicated by CNN]

CLINTON: I just want to add, I did not say it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.

DODD: Now, wait. Wait.

CLINTON: And we have failed --

DODD: Wait a minute.

CLINTON: We have failed.

DODD: No, no, no. You said yes -- you said yes.

CLINTON: No --

DODD: You thought it made sense to do it.

CLINTON: No, I didn't, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants?

CROWLEY: Pounce.

The following is the discussion as it actually occurred:

RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?

CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know, in New York, we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds -- it's probability. So what Governor 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.

RUSSERT: Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (OH): Believe what?

RUSSERT: An illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (CT): Well, this is a privilege. And look, I'm as forthright and progressive on immigration policy as anyone here, but we're dealing with a serious problem here. We need to have people come forward. The idea that we're going to extend this privilege here of a driver's license, I think, is troublesome. And I think the American people are reacting to it.

We need to deal with security on our borders; we need to deal with the attraction that draws people here; we need to deal fairly with those who are here -- but this is a privilege. Talk about health care, I have a different opinion. That affects the public health of all of us. But a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view.

CLINTON: Well --

WILLIAMS: Senator, let's --

CLINTON: I just want to add: I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.

DODD: Now, wait. Wait.

CLINTON: And we have failed --

DODD: Wait a minute.

CLINTON: We have failed --

DODD: No, no, no. You said -- you said yes --

CLINTON: No --

DODD: You thought it made sense to do it.

CLINTON: No, I didn't, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are driving on the roads?

DODD: Well, that's a legitimate issue. But driver's license goes too far --

CLINTON: Well --

DODD: -- in my view.

CLINTON: Well, you may say that, but what is the identification if somebody runs into you today who is an undocumented worker --

DODD: There's ways of dealing with that.

CLINTON: Well, but --

DODD: This is a privilege, not a right.

CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer has agreed to do is to have three different licenses: one that provides identification for actually going onto airplanes and other kinds of security issues; another, which is an ordinary driver's license; and then, a special card that identifies the people who would be on the road. So, it's not the full privilege.

DODD: That's a bureaucratic nightmare.

RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants a driver's license? You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, paper it made a lot of sense.

CLINTON: It --

RUSSERT: Do you support his plan?

CLINTON: You know, Tim, 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 problem. 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. He's making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform.

WILLIAMS: New subject. Senator Edwards, you have young children. As you know, the Internet can be a bit of a cultural Wild West. Assuming a lot of homes don't have parental support, would you be in favor of any government guidelines on Internet content?

EDWARDS: For children and try to protect children and using technology to protect children? I would.

I want to add something that Chris Dodd just said a minute ago, because I don't want it to go unnoticed. Unless I missed something, Senator 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. Because what we've had for seven years is doubletalk from Bush and from Cheney, and I think America deserves us to be straight.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Candy Crowley
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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