Hilly, Hillary, secretary or senator – any name goes, Hillary Clinton told the hosts of a hip-hop radio show in a phone interview broadcast on Wednesday morning.
Clinton called into the Ebro in the Morning show on New York’s Hot97 for a friendly 15-minute interview that touched on the controversial legacy of the 1994 crime bill, rival Bernie Sanders’ record on guns and Clinton’s commitment to helping African American communities in New York and beyond.
Sanders was interviewed on the show earlier this month. New York will hold Democratic and Republican primaries on 19 April.
“How do we refer to you? Mrs Clinton, first lady, secretary Clinton, senator?” asked an Ebro co-host.
“I’ll answer to any of those,” Clinton replied. “You can throw in Hillary, too. But I loved being your senator for eight years, that was so much fun.”
“So we could call you Hilly?”
“Yeah, you know I had some friends growing up who did.”
“A Hilly rock on any block!,” said a co-host, referring to the 2015 summer hit:
Clinton said Sanders had a “blind spot” on guns demonstrated by his votes against stripping gun manufacturers of liability protections in gun violence cases. Sanders has since introduced legislation to remove those protections.
“I see his refusal to acknowledge the 33,000 people a year who are killed by guns as a real blind spot,” Clinton said.
She partially defended the 1994 crime bill, blamed for steeply increasing the proportion of African Americans in prisons and jails on relatively low-level nonviolent drug offenses, as containing crucial gun control measures and protections for women.
But Clinton said the law “had bad effects of taking too many people out of families and away from communities”, and she repeated an apology for applying the epithet “super predators” at the time to some criminals the crime bill targeted.
“It certainly makes me feel sad because I’ve spent my whole adult life… trying to protect young people,” she said. “I would never use that word again, it was used once.”
Clinton also defended Bill Clinton’s frustrated reaction last week to protesters in a Philadelphia crowd who repeatedly shouted him down and held signs attacking the crime bill. The former president raised his voice and wagged his fingers at the protesters.
“I understand the frustration,” Clinton said. “When he took office in 1993, the statistics were devastating,” with 11 million Americans affected by violent crime. “It was a horrible situation.”
The show’s hosts challenged her to commit to helping improve public schools as president and taking other actions to support African American communities.
Clinton called protecting kids “the north star of my whole life”.
“My presidency will be about the struggling and the striving,” she said. “That’s who I am and that’s what I’ve done.”