Hillary Clinton got into a heated exchange on Thursday with NPR host Terry Gross over when exactly the former secretary of state started to support same-sex marriage.
In audio from the radio interview posted online by anti-Hillary group America Rising, Gross tried to pin Clinton down on whether she supported gay marriage during her husband’s administration but couldn’t say so for political reasons or whether her personal view on the issue had evolved since then.
“So, just to clarify, just one more question on this, would you say your view evolved since the ’90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?” Gross asked.
“I think I’m an American. I think that we have all evolved, and it’s been one of the fastest, most sweeping transformations that I’m aware of,” Clinton replied.
“I understand, but a lot of people believed in it already back in the ’90s,” Gross countered. “They supported gay marriage.”
“To be fair, Terry, not that many.” Clinton said.
From there, Clinton became more contentious as Gross pressed her to specify the sequence of events.
“You know, I have to say, I think you’re being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue,” Clinton said as the interview continued.
“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand,” Gross said.
“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton said. “I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I am in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. “
“So let me just state what I feel like I think you are implying and repudiate it,” Clinton added. “I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress were making.”
Clinton said she “did not grow up even imagining gay marriage.”
“I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don’t think you did either,” she said. “This was an incredible new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay right movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others about the rightness of that position. When I was ready to say what I said, I said it.”
Clinton allies came to her defense after the interview and resulting media coverage of the exchange on gay marriage.
“We know many Americans have matured on this issue, and our country is in a better place for it,” Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for Correct The Record, a rapid response group preparing for a 2016 run, said in a statement. “As a Senator and as Secretary of State, Clinton’s record on LGBT rights is strong. We regret the right’s attempt to demonize her for speaking honestly about her journey, a journey so many people have taken.”
This post has been updated.