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Hillary Clinton weighs in on Donald Trump, rolls out college affordability program

As far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, what Donald Trump said last Thursday was offensive, but maybe no more so than any of the men on the debate stage - especially Marco Rubio.

On Monday, Clinton berated Republicans for their views on abortion access, specifically targeting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for what he said at Thursday night's GOP debate. Asked during the debate about his support for exemptions to abortion bans for rape and incest, Rubio said then, "I have never said that, and I have never advocated that."

Clinton told reporters,"When one of their [the GOP's] major candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should be no exceptions for rape and incest, that is as offensive and troubling a comment as you can hear from a major candidate running for the presidency."

Rubio is one of the Republicans who could pose a big threat to Clinton. A Quinnipiac poll in late June found that she would beat Rubio by just three points in hypothetical matchups in Florida and Ohio, and a matchup in Pennsylvania would be too close to call.

Clinton pivoted to Rubio when she was asked about the controversy over remarks that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has been making about Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly - which got him disinvited to a conservative forum in Atlanta over the weekend.

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"I know it makes great TV. I think the guy went way overboard, offensive, outrageous - pick your adjective - but what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage and it is deeply troubling," Clinton said. "I thought what [Trump] said was offensive and I certainly think that it deserves the kind of reaction that it's getting from so many others but I think if we focus on that we're making a mistake. What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive."

Megyn Kelly, the object of Trump's derision during and after the debate, is "more than capable of defending herself against Donald Trump," Clinton said. Women who would be affected by Republican policies were another matter. Clinton said the GOP candidates "brag about slashing women's healthcare funding. They say they would force women who have been raped to carry their rapist's child."

She continued, "We don't hear any of them supporting raising the minimum wage, paid leave for new parents, access to quality childcare, equal pay for women or anything else that will help to give women a chance to get ahead."

The former secretary of state was in New Hampshire to deliver a speech about her plan to make college more affordable.

She did shed some light on why she attended Trump's wedding, which he claimed during the debate was what he asked in return for his donation to her previous campaign. Clinton said she was "planning to be in Florida" and "thought it would be fun."

"Now that he's running for president, it's a little more troubling," she said.

Will Joe Biden enter 2016 race?

Clinton also weighed in on Vice President Joe Biden, who is said to be considering a 2016 presidential bid of his own.

"I have the highest regard and affection for him," Clinton said. "I think we should all just let the vice president be with his family and make whatever decision he believes is right for him and I will respect whatever that decision is."

As for the recently-announced Democratic debate schedule - which has been criticized by her rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley - Clinton said, "I'm looking forward to debating."

"I'm not going to get into scheduling. I'm just going to show up," she said.

The $350 billion college tuition plan Clinton unveiled Tuesday would enable students to attend a four-year public college without taking out loans for tuition. Community college would be tuition-free. Clinton would use the $200 billion federal incentive system to give grants to states that promise to offer no-loan tuition at four-year public colleges and universities, and free community college tuition.

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She would pay for the plan in part by capping at itemized tax deductions at 28 percent for the wealthiest Americans.

Those who are now repaying student loans would be allowed to refinance at lower rates, and Clinton says she would expand programs that calculate rates of repayment based on people's incomes.

O'Malley and Sanders have also rolled out their own college affordability plans. Sanders would make all four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free, at a cost of about $70 billion a year, paid for by a new Wall Street tax. O'Malley would try to slow down or freeze tuition increases, while expanding Pell grants and work-study programs. He has not said how he would pay for his program.

Republican candidate Jeb Bush released a statement saying Clinton's plan was "irresponsible" and would result in higher taxes and increased government debt.

"We need to change the incentives for colleges with fresh policies that result in more individualization and choices, drive down overall costs, and improve the value of a college degree, which will help lead to real, sustained four-percent economic growth," he said.

In an interview on CNN, Rubio said the plan would merely result in private colleges and universities raising their tuition rates because there would be more financial aid available to students.

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