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.

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