"The president's latest budget would leave us with a $400 billion deficit. He went from inheriting a balanced budget and a surplus to a projected $400 billion deficit and a $9 trillion debt," Clinton explained.
"A deficit that that's been caused largely by a war that you authorized," Couric pointed out.
"Well, you know, when we voted to give the president authority, I think most Democrats did it as I did. They saw a sincere assessment of the situation as we viewed it at the time. But, I, at the time said, 'This is not to go into preemptive war.' And I certainly have been a critic. And the real issue now is how do we get out," Clinton said.
"Both you and Senator Obama have suggested pulling out combat troops. But if Iraq descends into an all out civil war, becomes a blood bath, will you reassess that?" Couric asked.
"When I become president, I would ask the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisors to immediately begin drawing up a plan that would enable me to start bringing our troops home within 60 days," Clinton replied. "There are no good easy or sure options in Iraq. Senator McCain has said it wouldn't bother him to stay for a hundred years. Well, it would absolutely, you know, enrage me because I see no reason for us to be even talking that way."
Her detailed understanding of Iraq and other complex issues is her specialty. A skill required by her demanding father, who set the bar impossibly high.
"President Clinton described your dad, I believe at his funeral, as tough and gruff?" Couric asked. "And I know I've read that when you brought home stellar grades, instead of praising you, he's say, 'You must be going to an easy school.' … That must have been so demoralizing."
"He really wanted to motivate me. And it worked," Clinton said. "You know, it really did. He would say, 'You can do better. You can do better. Keep going. You can do better.'"
"Do you think he'd still be saying, 'You can do better'?" Couric asked.
"Probably," Clinton replied.
It might be hard for her father to claim she isn't trying hard enough now.
60 Minutes joined Clinton on Thursday at a high school gym in Arlington, Va., as she borrowed a page from her husband's campaign playbook, stopping and shaking as many hands on the rope line as she could.
"What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?" Couric asked.
"Not always raising my hand," the senator replied, laughing.
"Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?" Couric asked.
"Only with some boys," Clinton said, laughing.
In Bill Clinton's high school yearbook a classmate wrote, "See you in the White House." But now, his prominent role in her campaign has raised questions about his role in a second Clinton White House.
"I look forward to having his advice and his counsel," Clinton told Couric.
"When you say you're looking forward to his advice and counsel the notion of a co-presidency comes to mind. And that's something that people aren't too keen about," Couric remarked.
"Well, they shouldn't be. But that's not what I'm really talking about. A president always turns to those closest to him or her, to get that unvarnished advice. But, at the end of the day, it's the president who makes the decision," Clinton explained.
"What do you see yourself doing if this doesn't work out?" Couric asked.
"Well, I'll be a senator from New York. Which is a great job. I love New York," Clinton replied.
Asked if she'd be fine with that, Clinton said, "Absolutely. You know, I have a very clear sense that this is gonna work out the way it's supposed to work out. And I'm happy with that. Maybe it's because I'm a little older, I'm not so, you know, panting and anxious and all of that. And I have a blessed life. So whatever happens, I will be fine."
60 Minutes asked Sen. John McCain to appear on the Feb. 10, 2008 broadcast, but he declined for scheduling reasons. We look forward to having him on in the near future.
Produced By Robert Anderson, Lori Beecher and Ira Rosen