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Saturday 26 July 2014

Clinton 'emboldened' by criticism

Published 10/06/2014|00:52

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Hillary Clinton said she feels "emboldened" to run for president because of Republican criticism of her handling of terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya (AP)

Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said she feels "emboldened" to run for the presidency because of Republican criticism of her handling of the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya.

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In an interview with ABC News, Ms Clinton said the Benghazi attacks inquiry from Republicans gives her a greater incentive to run for the White House because she considers the multiple investigations into the attacks "minor league ball" for a country of the United States' stature.

But she said that she is still undecided, adding: "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.

"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."

The interview publicising her new book, Hard Choices, Ms Clinton highlighted some of the key lines of criticism she could face if she runs for president in two years: her record as US president Barack Obama's top diplomat and charges by Republicans that she has been insulated from the everyday problems of Americans after more than two decades in public life.

In the interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Ms Clinton said her family struggled with legal bills and debt when she and her husband left the White House in early 2001.

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt," Ms Clinton said.

"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 immediately 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 Ms Clinton received an eight million dollar (£4.7 million) book advance for her 2003 memoir and said the comments reflected her insulation from the daily problems of average Americans.

"I think she's been out of touch with average people for a long time," said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, pointing to Ms Clinton's estimated 200,000-dollars-per-speech (£118,000) speaking fees and million-dollar book advances.

"Whether she was flat broke or not is not the issue. It's tone deaf to average people."

Hillary Clinton's Senate financial disclosure forms, filed for 2000, show assets between 781,000 dollars (£464,000) and almost 1.8 million dollars (£1 million). The forms allow senators to report assets in broad ranges. The same form, however, showed that the Clintons owed between 2.3 million dollars (£1.3 million) and 10.6 million dollars (£6.3 million) in legal bills to four firms.

Democrats noted that the Clintons gave away 10 million dollars (£5.9 million) after departing the White House and during the 2008 campaign, Ms Clinton released tax reforms that showed a total of 1.1 million dollars (£650,000) in book proceeds went to charities between 2000 and early 2008.

Ms Clinton's new book offers a rebuke to Republicans who have seized upon the September 11 2012 terrorist attack that killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of stonewalling congressional investigators and misleading the public about the nature of the attack in the weeks before the presidential election.

As Ms Clinton weighs her political future, Republicans have questioned her response to the attacks and whether she could have done more to secure the diplomatic compounds.

Multiple independent, bipartisan and Republican-led investigations have faulted the State Department for inadequate security in Benghazi, leading to four demotions. No attacker has been arrested.

Mr Obama and Ms Clinton allies alike have argued that there is no new information following more than a dozen public hearings and the release of 25,000 pages of documents.

In her book, Ms Clinton calls the accusations plainly political.

"I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It's just plain wrong, and it's unworthy of our great country," Ms Clinton writes.

"Those who insist on politicising the tragedy will have to do so without me."

Ms Clinton said she wishes Monica Lewinsky "well" but the affair involving her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, is not something she thinks about.

Ms Clinton told ABC News that she dealt with the scandal at the time and she has "moved on".

The former secretary of state and first lady said if she could say anything to Ms Lewinsky, she would "wish her well". She says she hopes Ms Lewinsky is "about to think about her life" and find meaning and satisfaction in it.

Vanity Fair magazine published a first-person account last month from Ms Lewinsky in which she said Mr Clinton "took advantage" of her, but that their affair was consensual.

Ms Clinton said it is "not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about".

Press Association

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