IOWA CITY, July 8: After months of hosting small-scale town halls, the Democratic presidential candidate sat down with CNN political correspondent Brianna Keilar at the Iowa City Public Library.
Keilar wasted little time before confronting Clinton about what has emerged as one of her campaign's biggest vulnerabilities: a lack of trust from the public, citing the results of a recent CNN poll that found six in 10 Americans don't believe the former secretary of state is honest or trustworthy.
"This is a theme that's been used against me and my husband for many, many years," Clinton said, noting that she was elected to the Senate twice in New York and confirmed for two terms as Secretary of State.
"People should, and do trust me," Clinton said when asked if she would vote for someone she didn't trust and blamed a "barrage of attacks that are largely fomented by and coming from the right" for persistent questions on her credibility.
"I have every confidence that during the course of this campaign, people are going to know who will fight for them," she said. "I trust the American voter 100 percent."
In response to questions about her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton delivered the same response she has since the controversy emerged – that she, like former Secretary Colin Powell who also had a private email address, violated no policies.
"This is being blown up with no basis, no fact. That's fine, I get it," she said. "But I want people to understand the truth, which is that everything I did was permitted. Let's set the record straight."
Clinton took aim at her Republican rivals when the conversation turned to immigration. Keilar also asked Clinton about the backlash surrounding Republican primary hopeful Donald Trump's recent comments on immigration and his inflammatory references to undocumented Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "killers."
"I'm very disappointed in those comments," Clinton said. "I feel very bad and disappointed with him and with the Republican party for not responding to him immediately and saying 'enough, stop it.'"
All of the Republican candidates are "on a spectrum of hostility," she said, with none supporting a pathway to citizenship, "Which I think is regrettable."
Clinton took the opportunity to confirm that she is, "100 percent behind comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship."
The latent debate over immigration reform, which will surely play a major role in the 2016 election, was reignited by the shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco last week. Francisco Sanchez, the man charged with her murder, is an undocumented immigrant who had reportedly been previously deported five times.
The case has prompted outrage over San Francisco's longstanding policy against cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement, which is why, Sanchez has said, he returned to the city.
Clinton, who Keilar pointed out supported so-called sanctuary cities during her last presidential campaign, said that San Francisco, "made a mistake not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported."
"If it were something minor, a misdemeanor, that's entirely different," she said. But "this man had been deported five times, he should have been deported at the request of the federal government."