In her only interview with Connecticut media on Monday, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton told NBC Connecticut about her recent rhetoric about guns and how the Sandy Hook tragedy has been a focal point of her campaign.
Clinton, who held a campaign rally at the University of Bridgeport over the weekend, said she hasn’t politicized the tragedy, even with a campaign ad featuring the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung who was killed that day.
"I think we have a real problem with guns in America. Thirty-three thousand people per year are killed by guns and politics, our government, our democracy, is supposed to be about solving problems," Clinton said backstage. "We need universal background checks. We need to end the universal immunity that has been given to the gunmakers themselves. We have to do more on mental health. We have to do more on education about the dangers of guns, so I think it's an appropriate and necessary topic to be discussing in this campaign."
That final comment was a nod to the lawsuit that families of Sandy Hook victims filed against the manufacturer and seller of the weapons used in the December 2012 massacre. A judge recently ruled the suit could move forward.
Clinton spoke several days ago during a campaign stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about how, as a child, she would spend time at a family cabin on Lake Winola. She said that’s where she learned to use a gun.
NBC Connecticut political reporter Max Reiss asked Clinton if she’s used a weapon recently.
"Well, not recently; I did go hunting when I lived in Arkansas. I haven't really had much chance to do it," she said. "I've done skeet shooting, but I wanted to make the point that I am not against responsible people having guns."
Clinton went on to say she believes in the Second Amendment and policies that can be good for both lawful gun owners and public safety.
"There is no contradiction between having safe gun policies that save lives and respecting Second Amendment rights," Clinton said.
On the issue of possible Supreme Court nominees, Clinton said some decisions by the high court have been "gifts to the gun lobby" and she would want a justice who could work to change those constitutional interpretations.
Additionally, Clinton said overturning Citizens United, the case that established that corporations could give unlimited sums to political campaign, would be a priority.
"I would certainly look for people who understood that Citizens United was one of the worst decisions the court has ever made," she said.
Connecticut’s economy has struggled since the 2008 recession and wage growth has remained essentially flat. Mentioning some of Connecticut’s largest cities, Clinton said her economic policies could provide some growth.
"I want to zero in [on] those places like Bridgeport and Waterbury that need those extra boosts and I will have those economics and jobs policy to do that. I will have an infrastructure policy and advanced manufacturing policy, a clean renewable energy policy, a small business policy and I want to do everything I can, working with the people in communities like Bridgeport and Waterbury to get back in the economic hunt to be able to provide more jobs that are going to provide good livings," she said.
The former secretary of state knows she will have to win over supporters of challenger Bernie Sanders, as well as independents, in the event she becomes the Democratic nominee. Clinton hopes her connections to the state as a student at Yale will play into voters’ decisions.
"I went to law school with Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal, so I've obviously known him for a very long time. Many other people in politics, in business and academia, and all kinds of civic groups so I do want people to know that I've spent a lot of time in Connecticut, driving around, seeing this beautiful state, and I want to be a partner to move the country forward," she said.
Clinton said her supporters in 2008 were polled as saying nearly half would not support then-Sen. Barack Obama in a general election but eventaully did.
Clinton hopes voters not only turn out for her Tuesday, but also that those who don’t vote for her examine how their values may line up with hers.
"I think the vast majority of my opponent's supporters are going to look at who the two nominees are and I'm very confident that we will have their support and we will work hard for it because I want people who don't support me now, not just people supporting my opponent in a Democratic primary but Republicans and Independents to really take a look at my record," Clinton said.