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Clinton Brushes Off Wall Street Ties, But Are Voters Buying It?

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Clinton defends whopping speaking fees from Goldman Sachs by saying, "That's what they offered."

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer

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Hillary Clinton's deep ties to Wall Street are under the spotlight again following her defense of taking large speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, as well as campaign finance records showing the tens of millions her campaign and super PACs have received from the financial sector.

Her defense of the speaking fees came Wednesday night during the Democratic Presidential Town Hall hosted by CNN when Anderson Cooper asked if it "was a mistake" or "bad error in judgement" for her to take $675,000 from the investment banking giant for three speeches.

Her response: "Look, I made speeches to lots of groups. I told them what I thought. I answered questions."

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"But did you have to be paid $675,000?" Cooper asked.

"Well, I don't know," she said. "That's what they offered. Every secretary of state that I know has done that."

She added that she wasn't committed to running at the time, and said, "They're not giving me very much money now, I can tell you that much."

Watch the exchange below in this video from CNN:

Clinton's rival Bernie Sanders has previously pointed to those speaking engagements to contrast the two campaigns. He said in an interview last month with the Washington Post:

"'I do not believe that you can get huge speaking fees from Goldman Sachs and then with a straight face tell the American people that you're prepared to do what is necessary to take on the greed and illegal behavior on Wall Street,' Sanders said. 'I don't think people think that passes the laugh test. ...Why do special powerful interests give you money? Are they dumb? I don't think so.'"

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The Post's Chris Cillizza argued that "For Sanders, the speaking fees attack encapsulates all of his strengths and Clinton's weaknesses into a tidy package that is easily understood by almost anyone."

And on Wednesday Sanders told CNN, "To a significant degree, her campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interests."

The Post, analyzing filings from the Federal Election Commission, reported Thursday on the full tally of the money her campaign is receiving from Wall Street, "a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans."

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