Hillary Clinton surprise stop on 'Colbert': Will book tour never end?

The inventive Stephen Colbert made the Hillary Clinton stop-by more than a boring recitation of difficult foreign policy choices. He began by 'criticizing' her new book as 600-plus pages of name-dropping.

Mike Groll/AP/File
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets customers during a book signing of her new book 'Hard Choices' at Northshire Bookstore on July 29 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton the hardest-working politician in show business? This summer, she’s set out on a book tour that seems to have no end. Her latest high-profile media appearance came on Tuesday night, when she walked on to “The Colbert Report” with no notice. Well, almost no notice: Prior to taping, host Stephen Colbert did hint that something big was up with some coy tweets.

“For some reason, my studio is crawling with Secret Service agents talking about somebody codenamed ‘Cillary Hinton’. Ooh, I bet it’s Biden!” Mr. Colbert tweeted.

As always, the inventive Colbert had a preplanned twist that made the Clinton stop-by more than a boring recitation of difficult foreign policy choices. He began by criticizing Ms. Clinton’s “Hard Choices” as 600-plus pages of name-dropping.

“I just don’t buy any of this. There is no way on earth one woman can be in so many places at once,” said Colbert, alone on stage.

Then Clinton came on to chants from the audience. Colbert reacted with faux surprise. Then the pair engaged in a name-drop-off of epic proportions, as Clinton charged that Colbert was himself a name-dropper par excellence.

“Name-dropper? That’s not what my good friend Tom Hanks calls me ... when we’re hanging out at George Clooney’s place,” Colbert said.

“Oh, I love George. I wish he could have joined us when I had lunch with Meryl Streep and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa,” Clinton replied.

“I know Raffi. He’s such a cutup. Especially when we go camping with Oprah,” Colbert said.

Things degenerated from there. It ended when Colbert boasted of once having done an entire show with Bill Clinton, and Hillary reminded him that she knew Bill, too.

On a slightly more serious note – but only slightly – Colbert then got Clinton to outline her peacemaking style by talking about settling a conflict between a horse-sized duck and 100 duck-sized horses. Or something like that.

“First, I’d try to find common ground between ducks and horses. For instance, they both grew up on Old MacDonald’s farm. Then I’d establish a timetable to achieve meaningful horse-duck dialogue,” Clinton said.

If you want to see the whole thing, you can watch the clip yourself. We’ll only note that it’s obvious why Clinton would stop by in these circumstances: "The Colbert Report” segment was almost certainly entirely prescripted, and thus controllable and favorable. Not all the appearances of her book tour have been so smooth.

As she’s hopped around the country and the world to sell “Hard Choices,” Clinton has been dogged by questions about her inartful comments regarding family finances. Was she really “dead broke” when she left the White House? That’s begun to harden into a GOP talking point that Clinton is trying to counteract.

On the same day the (possible) 2016 Democratic presidential nominee was jawing it up with Colbert, probable 2016 GOP hopeful Rand Paul was in Iowa. He made speeches and attacked Clinton in an interview with The Washington Post.

“To make a comment about how woeful her finances were when she’s worth supposedly between $100 million and $200 million – most of us, myself included, can’t imagine that much money,” Senator Paul said.

That’s a big reason Clinton is still out on the never-ending book tour. She knows the race has already begun. Her adversaries are honing their words, and so is she, in the pre-primary phase of the great American presidential contest.

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