Sep 3, 2015 12:08 AM

Steinhauser: Clinton campaign chair optimist, but says 'we've taken some punches' over email controversy

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – When it comes to Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, the chair of the Clinton presidential campaign acknowledges “have we taken a few punches, yeah.”

But John Podesta adds that Clinton “knows how to take a punch and keep coming back. She’s tenacious. She’s a fighter.”

The Clinton campaign national chair made his comments in a one-on-one interview Wednesday at the NH1 News studios in Concord. Podesta was in New Hampshire for the day for meetings and media interviews.

When it comes to the daily attacks from Republicans, and even some Democrats, over Clinton’s controversial use of private email and a private server during her four years as U.S. Secretary of State, Podesta said “it’s been controversial, but I think that, what the most important thing I can say is that she’s taken responsibility for it and she’ll answer questions about it.”

While Clinton has long admitted that she used the private email account for convenience, Podesta said “I think that’s been anything but convenient for her at this stage.”

Podesta added that “she’s taken responsibility, she’s answering the questions, she’s agreed to testify, she wants them all released.” But he went on to say that the controversy’s “not going to stop us from talking about issues that we think are important going forward.”

Podesta’s visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state came three days before Clinton teams up with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen at a “Women for Hillary” gathering in Portsmouth. At the event, Clinton will be formally endorsed by Shaheen, a former three-term governor who’s the Granite State’s most well-known and popular Democratic politician.

The long expected official backing by Shaheen comes as Clinton’s poll numbers in New Hampshire, other early voting states, and nationally, have slipped.

Clinton, who was once the overwhelming front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, slightly trails Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the most recent two public opinion surveys in New Hampshire.

Asked about the opportune timing of Shaheen’s endorsement, Podesta said it was more about the calendar than about poll numbers.

“I think we’re going into a different phase of the campaign, post Labor Day. People are going to pay more attention in the run up through the fall, “ Podesta said. “So this was an important and appropriate time to have that endorsement and to energize supporters here who love Sen. Shaheen.”

Asked if the Clinton campaign is concerned about Sander’s rising poll numbers and large crowds in New Hampshire, Iowa, and across the country, Podesta said “he’s getting large crowds around the country. But I think we’re still in very good shape. What we’ve tried to do is build a really strong grassroots organization, a deep staff here. We’ve got 10 offices open. We’ve got more than three thousand volunteers in the state. We’re going door to door. We’re going to compete for every vote.”

Podesta’s visit came as speculation increases over the possibility of a presidential bid by Vice President Joe Biden.

Podesta said that if the vice president “decides to run, we’re going to still run our game plan. We’re very determined to be successful and I think our supporters are, obviously we’re well ahead in organizing and I think our supporters are sticking with Hillary.”


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