Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is bristling at coverage of Hillary Clinton’s story that she tried to join the Marines in 1975.
“He looks at me and goes, ‘Um, how old are you. And I said, ‘Well I am 26, I will be 27.’ And he goes, ‘Well, that is kind of old for us.’ And then he says to me, and this is what gets me, ‘Maybe the dogs will take you,’ meaning the Army,” Clinton told a New Hampshire event on Tuesday.
As Clinton told the story in 1994: “You’re too old, you can’t see and you’re a woman,” Mrs. Clinton said she was told. “Maybe the dogs would take you,” she recalled the recruiter saying. “It was not a very encouraging conversation. I decided maybe I’ll look for another way to serve my country.”
Skepticism around the story includes the fact that she was involved in the antiwar movement, and the low likelihood that the Marines would have turned down a law school grad in a time when the Corps was desperate for such highly skilled recruits. The Washington Post fact-checker gave the story two Pinocchios, saying there isn’t enough evidence to corroborate what she claimed: “There are enough holes here that Clinton has an obligation to address the circumstances under which she approached the Marines, now that she had once again raised it in a campaign context.”
When asked about the incident today on MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz shot back, “Why on earth are we talking about this?”
“What the story illustrated was that we have made a lot of progress in America. Secretary Clinton is absolutely right. Back then, you did have a much tougher time for women to be able to make it successfully through the recruitment process and move up in the military and we have made tremendous progress since then. Same thing with the number of women that serve in Congress. We have a record number of women serving in Congress today but even during the time that I have been in office, we have come a long way,” the DNC chairwoman said.
“It is absolutely important that we talk about during this presidential campaign the issues that are important to women. Not just that we need to make more progress when it comes to the opportunities for women, but that we need to make sure we get equal pay for equal work, where there’s a very stark contrast between our three candidates for president and the Republicans, all of whom oppose enforcing equal pay for equal work.”
Host Andrea Mitchell reminded Wasserman Schultz that the point of the questioning “is just did this happen.”
“This is a personal story that Hillary Clinton has told, and it’s not the first time she told it,” Wasserman Schultz said, arguing that raising the issue is “really unreasonable.”
“It didn’t come up out of the blue. But using it as an illustration is an important way to jump off so that you can talk about the topic of making sure that we continue to make progress for women in this country in a variety of ways where Democratic candidates for president are fighting for that and Republicans want to take women backwards. Republicans have brought us to the brink where they were willing to shut the government down over Planned Parenthood funding and access to health care for women,” she continued.
“…It is not where you can go back and ask a recruiter whether that happened. She was using it as an illustration and it’s not the first time she raised it and it’s an appropriate illustration and a personal experience. Do we need every single experience in a person’s life to be written in stone and blood and verifiable? There are things that happen to people all across America that can’t be verified and I know your next question’s going to be about Ben Carson. I think, quite frankly, the same goes for stories about Ben Carson. The issues that are important to Americans in this race are who is going to go to bat for them, have their back and make sure they can build those cornerstones of the middle class life.”