Hillary Clinton: $12 million in debt when Clintons left White House
Hillary Clinton says she and Bill were "dead broke" when he left office in 2001. When asked by the Obama campaign to attack Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton says she refused.
Washington — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that she and former President Bill Clinton "fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans," seeking to refine remarks she made about the pair being broke when they left the White House while on a high-profile media tour for a new book.
At the same time, the former secretary of state dropped another hint that she might be leaning toward a second run for the presidency. Clinton said that she and her husband have "gone through some of the same challenges that many people have" and that they "understand what that struggle is."
In an interview on the day her book "Hard Choices" was being released, Clinton told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she and her husband left the White House roughly $12 million in debt at the end of his second term in early 2001 and were "dead broke." But she also said "we've continued to be blessed in the last 14 years."
Clinton said that she wants "to use the talent and resources that I have to make sure" others have the same opportunities.
It was the second time in as many days that Clinton talked of her interest in possibly running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2016.
In an interview with ABC News that aired Monday, she said that at the end of Bill Clinton's presidency her family "came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. 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."
Republicans quickly seized on the comment, two years after their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was dogged by accusations of being out of touch because of his wealth. Republican officials pointed out that Hillary Clinton received an $8 million book advance for her 2003 memoir and said it showed she would have trouble relating to average Americans.
Clinton said that Republican inquiries into her handling of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, gave her more of an incentive to run. While she said she's still undecided about her political future, Clinton cited the Benghazi probe as an example of a dysfunctional Congress.
"It's more of a reason to run, because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball. We ought to be in the majors," Clinton said emphatically, leaning forward in her chair during her interview aired Monday with ABC's Diane Sawyer. "I view this as really apart from, even a diversion from, the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world."
On Benghazi, Clinton said Tuesday she believed "there were some systemic problems within the State Department. And if we had known that earlier, perhaps we could have done some changes."
But she also said, "You can't always sit in an office in Washington and say this and that will happen."
Clinton said she has no lingering health issues from a concussion she suffered last year. And she also said "no" when asked if she would have to distance herself from some of President Barack Obama's foreign policy decisions if she runs for the White House. Clinton said she made clear in the book there were areas where she and Obama disagreed. In a campaign scenario, she said, "I will be clear" where she disagrees with Obama.
Clinton lost to Obama in a prolonged primary fight in 2008. In another interview, Clinton revealed that shortly after her loss and Sarah Palin's nomination as the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, the Obama campaign proposed that Clinton go on the attack against Palin. Clinton said she refused.
"The Obama campaign did contact me and asked me if I would attack her," Clinton told NBC in an interview that aired Tuesday. "I said, 'Attack her for what, for being a woman? Attack her for being on a ticket that's ... trying to draw attention?'"
Clinton said she told the campaign, "There'll be plenty of time to do what I think you should do in politics, which is draw distinctions."
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