Hillary Clinton on Benghazi Scandal: ‘It’s More of a Reason to Run’

6 things we learned from Hillary Clinton’s interview with Diane Sawyer.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
June 9, 2014, 7:02 p.m.

Get ready to hear a lot from Hil­lary Clin­ton. 

With the re­lease of her book, Hard Choices, Tues­day, Clin­ton will be run­ning the me­dia gaunt­let, talk­ing to re­port­ers across the broad­cast spec­trum and on cable. Her first stop was an hour-long (preta­ped) in­ter­view with Di­ane Saw­yer on ABC on Monday night. Saw­yer’s ques­tions covered a wide range: from Clin­ton’s per­spect­ive on be­ing a fe­male pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, to her health, and, of course, her hand­ling of the Septem­ber 11, 2012, at­tack on the U.S. Con­su­late in Benghazi. Ex­pect sim­il­ar ques­tions throughout the me­dia tour. (Also ex­pect sim­il­ar an­swers.)

While Clin­ton said she would not be mak­ing a de­cision to run for pres­id­ent this year, 2016 was in­es­cap­able. In the D.C. TV mar­ket, at least, an anti-Hil­lary Clin­ton ad ran dur­ing the broad­cast.

Though Clin­ton didn’t make any out­right news dur­ing the broad­cast, it was an in­ter­est­ing op­por­tun­ity to listen to her com­ment on the cur­rent head­lines cir­cu­lat­ing around her. 

Here’s what we learned. 

1. The Benghazi scan­dal will not dis­suade Clin­ton from run­ning in 2016. If any­thing, she said, it will mo­tiv­ate her, be­cause she be­lieves law­makers are us­ing the is­sue for petty polit­ic­al gains. And the coun­try is bet­ter than that.

Ac­tu­ally, it’s more of a reas­on to run. I do not be­lieve our great coun­try should be play­ing minor league ball. We ought to be in the ma­jors. 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.

2. She feels that she, per­son­ally, could not have in­ter­vened to in­crease se­cur­ity at the Benghazi com­pound.

Well, I cer­tainly would give any­thing on Earth if this had not happened, and I cer­tainly would wish that we had made some of the changes that came to our at­ten­tion to make as a res­ult of the in­vest­ig­a­tion…. We had a sys­tem, and that sys­tem of course ended with me. I take re­spons­ib­il­ity, but i was not mak­ing se­cur­ity de­cisions.

I think it would be a mis­take for a sec­ret­ary of State to sit and say, okay, let’s go through all 270 posts and let me de­cide what should be done. That, to me, is in­ap­pro­pri­ate where the ex­per­i­ence and the ex­pert­ise lies else­where.

3. Her 2012 con­cus­sion and sub­sequent blood clot have left no linger­ing ef­fects on her health. Yet, she’ll (prob­ably) be on blood thin­ners for life to pre­vent fur­ther clots.

Saw­yer: So no linger­ing af­fects of any kind.

Clin­ton: No linger­ing af­fects.

Saw­yer: You would re­lease your med­ic­al re­cords if you ran for pres­id­ent?

Clin­ton: I would do what oth­er can­did­ates have done, ab­so­lutely.

Saw­yer: What would you like to say to Karl Rove about your brain?

Clin­ton: That I know he was called Bush’s brain in one of the books writ­ten about him, and I wish him well.

4. Rand Paul can bring up Mon­ica Lew­in­sky all he likes. Just watch out.

You know, he can talk about whatever he wants to talk about. If he de­cides to run, he’ll be fair game, too, for every­body.

5. On bat­tling her im­age as be­ing “scrip­ted, cau­tious, safe, ar­mored.”

I un­der­stand why some people might have seen that or cer­tainly at­trib­uted that, be­cause when you’re in the spot­light as a wo­man, you know you’re be­ing judged con­stantly. I mean, it is just nev­er-end­ing. And you get a little wor­ried about, okay, people over on this side are lov­ing what I’m wear­ing, look­ing like, say­ing. People over on this side aren’t. Your nat­ur­al tend­ency is how do you bring people to­geth­er so that you can bet­ter com­mu­nic­ate. I’m done with that. I mean, I’m just done.

Saw­yer: You said you’re just over it?

Clin­ton: I am over it, over it. I think I have changed — not worry so much about what oth­er people are think­ing and my view is, I have lived an in­cred­ibly blessed life.

Saw­yer: Time for rad­ic­al candor?

Clin­ton: I love that phrase. If you don’t mind, I’ll use it. I think for me it’s time. I don’t know that I could have done it earli­er, be­cause i was cer­tainly try­ing to find my way.

6. After Bill Clin­ton’s term in of­fice was up, the Clin­tons were in debt, and “struggled” to put to­geth­er re­sources for “houses.”

Well, you have no reas­on to re­mem­ber, but we 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 piece to­geth­er the re­sources for mort­gages for houses, for Chelsea’s edu­ca­tion. It was not easy. Bill has worked really hard, and it’s been amaz­ing to me. He’s worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts … we had to make double the money be­cause of, ob­vi­ously, taxes and pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of fam­ily mem­bers.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5017) }}

What We're Following See More »
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
1 days ago

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Maher Weighs in on Bernie, Trump and Palin
1 days ago

“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.