Hillary Clinton backpedals on ‘dead broke’ comments
By Geoff EarleJune 10, 2014 | 9:40am
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton attempted to walk back remarks that she and her husband came out of the White House “dead broke” — saying she knows their life is “obviously blessed.”
“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday.
“Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives … So for me it’s just a reality what we faced when he got out of the White House, it meant that we just had to keep working really hard.”
Her clean-up effort came after Clinton kvetched about her past financial situation on ABC — even though her family’s income their last year in the White House was more than $400,000. Bill Clinton also signed an $8 million book advance, and the couple got a $1.3 million loan from a pal to buy their tranquil Chappaqua home.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton said on Monday night. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”
Top Republicans and commentators immediately slammed the remarks as out of touch.
Clinton made the controversial comment during a carefully crafted kickoff to promote her book, “Hard Choices,” on ABC Monday night.
In the hour-long broadcast, the former secretary of state leveled a veiled political threat to muddy up a potential 2016 rival and brought up 69-year-old interviewer Diane Sawyer’s own age when pressed about her years.
The interview featured some intense sparring and blunt self-assessments. “I really didn’t have a good strategy for my campaign” in 2008, Clinton confessed.
On the attacks on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Clinton hedged: “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.”
Asked about inadequate security at the US diplomatic facility there, which she oversaw as head of the State Department, Clinton at first said the facility was in the top 25 riskiest outposts. But when pressed by Sawyer, she said it was “maybe” in the top 10.
Rather than say intense criticism over Benghazi discouraged her from seeking the presidency, Clinton said the attacks were a reason to aim for the Oval Office.
“Actually it’s more of a reason to run. I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball,” she said.
Clinton resisted Sawyer’s efforts to get her to admit mistakes on Benghazi.
“There was a lack of appreciation and response to the level of threat,” Clinton said. But as for a cable on lacking security, she said, “Well no, that was never brought to me.”
“Age,” Sawyer said at one point — introducing a hot-button topic for Clinton, who would be 69 when she took office if she runs for president in 2016.
“Age, yes — isn’t it great to be our age,” Clinton responded with a laugh, turning the attention back on the interviewer. That prompted Sawyer to acknowledge, “I’m older than you are.”
Asked about her famous fall last year, Clinton said she would “probably” take blood thinners for life.
Asked directly if she’d release her medical records, Clinton spun: “I would do what other candidates have done, absolutely.”
She said she “probably” wouldn’t repeat her famous 1990s declaration of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” But she said there was a “concerted political effort” against her husband and President Obama.
Asked about the declaration by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that Monica Lewinsky was fair game in a potential 2016 campaign, Clinton only hinted at Paul’s liabilities. “If he decides to run, he’ll be fair game, too, for everybody,” she intoned.
She delivered a warning to Republican House members on a select committee investigating Benghazi.
Asked if she’d testify, Clinton said: “We’ll see what they decide to do, how they conduct themselves.”
But she wished Lewinsky well. “I hope that she is able to think about her future and construct a life that she finds meaning and satisfaction in,” Clinton said.