CHICAGO – Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor "was defeated by a candidate who basically ran against immigrants."
In Chicago to promote her new book in a public discussion with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate said a "negative attitude about immigration and immigrants" is playing out politically in some parts of the country, including Cantor's GOP primary.
The Virginia Republican lost to tea party-backed economics professor David Brat Tuesday in a shocker of an election in which Brat ripped Cantor for not being tough enough on illegal immigration.
Clinton said the basic argument of Brat's campaign was that if Americans are out of work, immigrants shouldn't be allowed into the U.S. to take those jobs. She echoed comments from a Tuesday speech to an industry group that represents fruit and vegetable growers, saying immigrants take jobs – such as picking fruit – that Americans won't.
"The answer is not to throw out of work and deport the 11 million immigrants who are contributing already to our economy," Clinton said. "The answer is to grow our economy and create more jobs."
Clinton has sounded increasingly like a candidate as she's hawked her book, which was released Tuesday.
She said Wednesday she supports legislation that passed the Senate that would provide a path to citizenship to people in the U.S. illegally, comments that could appeal to a growing Hispanic population as well as other immigrants. The prospects of the Republican-controlled House passing that legislation were unlikely before Tuesday, and Cantor's loss seemed to guarantee the measure is dead for this year.
Wednesday's event also included some more light-hearted moments between Clinton and Emanuel, who was a senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton and was Obama's first chief of staff.
Emanuel razzed Hillary Clinton for a comment she made in earlier interviews that she and the former president were "dead broke" when they left the White House.
"'Dead broke?'" Emanuel deadpanned early in the discussion before several thousand people. "Really?"
Clinton said it "may not have been the most artful way" of saying they had been through some financial ups and downs.