Hillary Clinton blames the GOP for the deep political divide, but concedes she'd like to 'take back' some things she said

  • Hillary Clinton blamed powerful patrons of the GOP for deepening the country's political divide, but added that she also regrets some of the things she said "in the heat of battle." 
  • During a speech at Rutgers University on Thursday, Clinton argued that Republican politicians are being forced to the far right by wealthy donors with their own agenda. 
  • And she said she sympathizes with moderate Republicans who are being forced to retire "because they know they'll be shown no understanding by the hard right." 

During a speech to a sold-out arena at Rutgers University on Thursday, Hillary Clinton blamed powerful patrons of the GOP for deepening the country's political divide, but added that she "would like to take back" some things she's said in "the heat of battle."

Talking about the divisiveness in politics, the former Democratic presidential nominee said both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the country's political rift.

"Both parties have their faults ... we can all do better," she said. "I can certainly do better. Obviously in the heat of battle and political back and forth, I've said things that I would like to take back — we all are like that." 

But, Clinton argued, the Republican Party is being pushed rightward by a group of powerful, hard-right donors seeking to promote their own agenda.  

"It's being held captive by a small group of powerful forces," Clinton said of the GOP. "Some of the very wealthy patrons of the Republican Party are so demanding, if you deviate from their stated requests, they will fund somebody to run against you in a Republican primary, they will dry up your money, they will make it really difficult." 

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'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames
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'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames

Hillary Clinton

Trump's nickname: "Crooked Hillary"

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Trump's nickname: "Mr. Magoo"

(NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon

Trump's nickname: "Sloppy Steve"

Elizabeth Warren

Trump's nickname: "Pocahontas"

Former FBI director James Comey 

Trump's nickname: "Slippery James Comey"

(Photo by Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images)

Kim Jong Un

Trump's nickname: "Rocket Man"

Chuck Todd 

Trump's nickname: "Sleepy eyes / sleeping son of a b---h"

(NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Marco Rubio

Trump's nickname: "Little Marco"

Dianne Feinstein

Trump's nickname: "Sneaky Dianne Feinstein"

(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Trump's nickname: "1 for 38 Kasich"

(REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

Bob Corker

Trump's nickname: "Liddle' Bob Corker"

NBC correspondent Katy Tur

Trump's nickname: "Little Katy"

(Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer

Trump's nickname: "Cryin' Chuck / Fake Tears Chuck"

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Trump's nickname: "Jeff Flake(y)"

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

Trump's nickname: 'Wacky Congresswoman Wilson"

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Trump's nickname: "Little Adam Schiff"

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Journalist Megyn Kelly

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Megyn"

(Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)

The New York Times

Trump's nickname: "Failing New York Times"

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Trump's nickname: "Lyin' Ted"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Trump's nicknames: "Crazy Joe Scarborough/Psycho Joe" and "Dumb as a Rock Mika"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

Jeb Bush

Trump's nickname: "Low energy Jeb Bush"

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Bernie"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Jim Acosta

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

CNN 

Trump's nickname: "Clinton News Network"

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Al Franken

Trump's nickname: "Al Frankenstien"

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania's 18th district Conor Lamb

Trump's nickname: "Lamb the sham'

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

'Good Morning America' anchor George Stephanopoulos

Trump's nickname: "Little George"

(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

Face The Nation

Trump's nickname: "Deface the Nation"

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Former First Minister of Scotland  Alex Salmond

Trump's nickname: "Mad Alex"

(Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Joe Biden"

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Trump's nickname: Cheatin’ Obama

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Clinton said that while she wants to see more Republican leaders stand up to the party's most powerful backers, she understands "how intense the partisanship is."

She praised Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate who's been an outspoken critic of the president and his administration. Diagnosed with brain cancer last year, McCain has been recovering at home in Arizona for the last several months. 

"I'm so missing John McCain's voice, because you can disagree with John, but he will stand up for Democratic values and Democratic institutions," Clinton said, adding that establishment and moderate Republicans are retiring from office "because they know they'll be shown no understanding by the hard-right and the money that funds it." 

More on John McCain:

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John McCain receives 2017 Liberty Medal
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John McCain receives 2017 Liberty Medal
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) laughs after being awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (unseen) at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. At right is President of the National Constitution Center Jeffrey Rosen. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks after being awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (unseen) at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gives a thumbs up to the crowd before being awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. At right is President of the National Constitution Center Jeffrey Rosen. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. Standing between them is President of the National Constitution Center Jeffrey Rosen. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) shakes hands with supporters before being awarded the 2017 Liberty Medal by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) receives the the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) poses for photos with a group of Naval cadets after receiving the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden (not shown) at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) makes remarks after receiving the the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden (not shown) at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) receives the the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) greets a group of Naval cadets after receiving the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden (not shown) at the National Constitution Center on October 16, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
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