Former Secretary of State and leading Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has repeatedly and conspicuously failed to answer the call for her to release the transcripts of the three speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs for which she was paid a total of $675,000.
CNN debate co-moderator Dana Bash tried again Thursday night: "If there's nothing in those speeches that you think would change voters' minds, why not just release the transcripts and put this whole issue to bed?" Bash asked.
Clinton first responded as though she hadn't understood the question: "When I was in public service serving as the senator from New York, I did stand up to the banks," she said. "I'm not saying that Sen. Sanders did something untoward when he voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives, but the fact is he did."
When Bash pressed the point, Clinton called the demand for transcripts "a new expectation" of presidential candidates and changed the subject to Sanders' failure to release his tax returns.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders aggressively challenged each other's judgment to be president in Democratic debate April 14, 2016, wrangling over the minimum wage and gun control just days before the critical New York primary. (AP)
"We're going to get to the tax returns later," Bash said. "But just to put a button on this, you're running now for the Democratic nomination, and it is your Democratic opponent and many Democratic voters who want to see those transcripts."
"Let's set the same standard for everybody," Clinton said. "When everybody does it, OK, I will do it."
Ugh. This issue has been festering since early February when Clinton responded with a wan "I'll look into it" when Sanders asked her for those transcripts during a debate in Durham, N.H., and her answers have become more stubborn and evasive.
At this point, the fair-minded observer — even one who, like me, thinks Clinton is the Democrats' best bet in November — has to assume that the speeches were so unctuous, so fawning and so flattering to the Wall Street titans that publishing them would damage her campaign far more than it's being damaged by how guilty and evasive she appears every time the subject of the transcripts comes up.