Fiery Clinton Fields Tough Questions at Campaign Rally

(CBS)
From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

EUGENE, ORE. -- During a campaign stop in Oregon, Hillary Clinton fielded testier questions from the audience, more so than she has in quite a while. It was a typical campaign rally where Clinton delivered her now typical campaign speech, but twice during her remarks Clinton was heckled by a gentleman who wanted to know why Clinton voted for No Child Left Behind and the war in Iraq. Clinton remained unfazed by the man's outbursts. But it wasn't until the question and answer period where Clinton drew her greatest challenge.

Clinton called on a young man who when asking his question said he was a supporter of Barack Obama, and he wanted to know if Clinton or her supporters had done or said anything that would weaken Obama's chances at winning the general election were he the nominee. Clinton said, "I think this has been by and large one of the most positive and civil campaigns I have ever been a part of."

But her calm tone and relaxed demeanor soon became sharp and fiery. "Elections are about choices. You are supposed to present your case and you're supposed to critique the other case. That's what you do in an election, it is not a coronation, it is a contest, this country is worth fighting for, and I'm going to fight for it!"

Clinton went on to say that elections can be heated and a president has to be able to handle criticism. "I don't take any of it personally," she said. "I don't take any of it seriously. If you can't stand the heat don't run for president because it's a really hot kitchen in the White House."

Clinton, who continued making her case to the Obama supporter drew loud cheers from the crowd when she told the man: "I wish we could believe that we could get to universal health care, that we could turn the economy around, that we could end the home foreclosure crisis merely bay asking people to do it, by bringing them together, by pointing to a higher cause and expecting them to shelve their personal, ideological, personal and partisan advantages, that is not the way the world has ever worked."

Growing more frustrated Clinton said, "I wouldn't be standing here. I wouldn't be getting up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at 2 a.m. if I didn't believe I would be the better candidate to beat John McCain."

Clinton was later asked about her now infamous 3 a.m. phone call ad and what exactly makes her ready to answer that call when she has, as part of her record, a vote for the war in Iraq. Clinton defended her vote on the war saying voters should compare both her and Obama's records.

"I made a considered judgment, I didn't make a speech, I made a decision and it was a decision based on my best assessment on what would be in the interest of our country at that very uncertain time."

Clinton said that historians will judge if her decision was the right one, but she reminded voters that Obama's voting record on the war is not very different than hers.

"When you want to compare, compare decisions so when Senator Obama came to the Senate, he and I voted exactly the same except for one vote and that happens to be the facts."

Obama has been credited with foreseeing a troublesome war in Iraq primarily due to a speech he gave in 2002 while he was a state senator, where he spoke out against the war. Clinton said, "I started criticizing the war in Iraq before he did. So, I'm well aware that his entire campaign is premised on a speech he gave in 2002 and I give him credit for making that speech. But that was not a decision."