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What the presidential candidates said (and what they really meant)

Newsday columnist Lane Filler spent the weekend at the Iowa State Fair, following presidential candidates and listening to their stump speeches.

Here, he offers a translation between what the candidates said and what they really meant.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Democrat

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Clinton spoke on Friday night at the Democratic Wing Ding, a fund raiser.

What she said: You may have seen I recently launched a Snapchat account . . . I love it, those messages disappear all by themselves.
What she meant: See, I can laugh at myself. And the email server/classified material thing? That's not a crippling political liability the FBI is currently investigating. It's more of a fun gag. Get it?

What she said: My first job out of law school wasn't at a big New York firm, it was at the Children's Defense Fund.
What she meant: My legal career was about helping little people for little pay, so you don't need to think about the fact that I was at the Children's Defense Fund for less than a year, then spent 15 years at the Rose Law Firm, one of the most powerful firms in Arkansas, representing powerful corporations and wealthy clients. Put it out of your mind, because . . . the children.

Carly Fiorina, Republican

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina greets 9 year
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina greets 9 year old Lauren Englin, of Clear Lake, Iowa after dining at the Starboard Market August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Fiorina spoke on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at the Iowa State Fair soapbox.

What she said: All the scientists who tell us climate change is real tell us a single nation acting alone will make no difference.
What she meant: The standard Republican "I'm not a scientist" response to questions about climate change isn't doing the trick. What's a phrase that admits we might be heating this sucker up but suggests we shouldn't do anything about it?

What she said: The federal government needs less money. Tax reform that's not revenue neutral, but revenue reducing."
What she meant: Any tax boys can cut, girls can cut further. Don't let the perfectly faded and stylish jeans and California address fool you. I am seriously conservative.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Republican

Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker holds a spatula at the Iowa Pork Producers Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Walker spoke at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015.

What he said: We need to take the power out of Washington.
What he meant: I'm a governor, so I think the power should rest with the states. If I was a mayor I would think it should rest with the cities. If I become president . . . we'll see. In general, it should rest wherever I rest.

What he said: I didn't inherit fame or fortune from my family.
What he meant: If you like Jeb Bush but hate political dynasties, think Walker 2016.

Real estate developer Donald Trump, Republican

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump eats a pork
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump eats a pork chop on a stick while campaigning the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Trump spoke on Saturday, at a press conference outside the Iowa State Fair Grounds.

What he said: Jeb Bush is a puppet to his donors.
What he meant: "I'm not just repeatedly telling you how rich I am to stroke my own ego. I'm making the point that I'm the only candidate who can self-finance, and thus prevent being bout by fat cats like . . . me."

It's interesting that this is one of the few points where he and Bernie Sanders, each with their own insurgent movements, agree.

What he said: She just asked me if I'm going to take questions from reporters . . . what am I doing now?
What he meant: Do you people at home see how ridiculous the press can be? Do you see how they're a part of the problem, how they don't get it?

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Republican

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson eats a
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson eats a piece of pizza while touring the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Carson spoke at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox Sunday.

What he said: I never tasted cotton candy until I was an adult.
What he meant: I need to quickly make the point that I grew up poor and acknowledge the fact that I'm at a fair.

What he said: We need to stop listening to people who tell us we can't talk about God and we can't talk about our faith. What he meant: I may have gone to Yale and Johns Hopkins, but I'm one of you and you can trust me on abortion and religious freedom.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrat

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. Sanders spoke on Friday at the Democratic Wing Ding.

What he said: I was determined not to have a Super PAC. I don't support their agenda, I don't want their money.
What he meant: I'm not naming names, but someone who keeps yelling about Citizens United and the corrupting nature of big money players in politics raised $15.6 million in the first six months of this year. [Whispers] She's right over there . . .

What he said: Nobody will fight harder than I will to end racism and reform our criminal justice system.
What he meant: I really, really will fight for this, but please don't seize my microphone. I know #BlackLivesMatter. I swear. I'm on it.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Republican

Bush spoke on Friday at the the Iowa
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Bush spoke on Friday at the the Iowa State Fair Soapbox.
What he said: We need to come together as a nation.
What he meant: "We need to stop the kind of angry, divisive behavior exhibited by my political opponents and embrace the kind of angry, divisive behavior exhibited by. . . me."

The "come together" mantra is common, nearly every contender uses it, but it doesn't mask the fact that elections are fought via accusations that the other side has terrible ideas, which it implements incompetently. Which does not lead to "Kumbaya moments."

What he said: Yeah, right . . . man.
What he meant: The comment was in response to a crowd member yelling that George W., had created ISIS and Jeb's response somehow reflected all his exasperation with the endless questions related to his brother's invasion of Iraq. To be fair, he might get a break on this if his campaign hadn't hired so many of W's foreign policy advisors.

Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, Democrat

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley departs after speaking
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley departs after speaking at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. What he said: The enduring symbol of our nation is not the barbed wire fence or the chain link fence but the Statue of Liberty.
What he meant: I know I pretty much have the same views as Hillary and less cool-kid cred than Bernie, but I'm giving you eloquence here. Straight up verve!

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Republican

Rebulican presidential candidate Rick Santorum fields questions
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Scott Olson

Rebulican presidential candidate Rick Santorum fields questions from the press following a presidential forum hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Santorum spoke at the Iowa State Fair soapbox on Saturday.

What he said: I'm asking you to help me win Iowa again. . . and declare me the winner immediately, not 18 days later.
What he meant: You guys killed me when you took almost three weeks to declare me the winner in 2012. I needed the press of a clear win. I needed the pop. I could have been a contender I could have been somebody. I mean, I love you. I need you. But oh, I could just scream . . .

Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, Democrat

Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chaffee speaks at the
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chaffee speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding August 14, 2015 in Clear Lake, Iowa. What he said: I've been a mayor, a governor and a U.S. senator.
What he meant: I am not a crackpot, I am a legitimate candidate. Seriously. Where are you going, why are you all leaving? I am still talking here, people. Oh . . . this makes me so mad!!!

Former New York governor George Pataki, Republican

Republican presidential candidate George Pataki talks with reporters
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Republican presidential candidate George Pataki talks with reporters during the Republican National Committee Summer Meeting at the Renaissance Hotel August 5, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Pataki spoke at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox Sunday afternoon.

What he said: No individual can do it by yourself, you have to have a team.
What he meant: I just got embarrassed by an ex-marine heckler who says all politicians use the word "I" too much and always tout themselves. I will return to the Republican mantra of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps at my next campaign stop.

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