Hillary Clinton’s new book generates campaign-style heat

Hillary Rodham Clinton greets patrons at a Barnes & Noble in New York for the signing of her new book, "Hard Choices."
(Brigitte Dusseau / AFP/Getty Images)

In her first interviews as “Hard Choices” was published on Tuesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted that her new book was not, as one reporter suggested, a “classic campaign book.” Nor had she decided, she said, whether she would run for president.

Still, the release of “Hard Choices” looked a lot like the first day of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. For starters, one of the interviews immediately generated a Twitter counteroffensive. And she found herself taking positions and explaining herself on controversies past and present.

In an interview on Monday night with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Clinton had said she and her husband left the White House in 2001 “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,” she said. “You know, it was not easy.”

The Republican National Committee tweeted in reply: “Hillary Clinton’s out-of-touch idea of ‘dead broke’ is some mansions & $200,000 for a few hours work,” the latter referring to her speaking fees.

Clinton did not delay in responding to those criticisms. Indeed, the speed of her reply suggests a 2016 campaign “war room” may already be up and running in some suburban Washington locale. Clinton had an explanation of her wealth comments ready for her next interview, on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said. “It’s an issue I’ve worked on and cared about my entire adult life.”

Clinton then explained she and her husband had gone into debt -- in legal bills after years of being investigated by a special prosecutor and an unsuccessful, GOP-led effort to remove President Bill Clinton from office.

Several political websites and commentators are scrutinizing the book, of course, with CNN offering a list of “What’s Not in Hillary Clinton’s Book,” including “gossip,” any mention of the Keystone pipeline or the National Security Agency and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In an interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Clinton expressed tacit support for the Obama administration, which has come under attack for the deal to release five Taliban leaders from custody in Guantanamo in exchange for the captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Clinton said that, as secretary of State, she had tried to broker a similar deal.

“I’m not going to second-guess the decision that was made, and as I understand it, it was a decision backed by the State Department, the Defense Department and the intelligence community,” she said.

Clinton also said she was “grief stricken” over the deaths of American diplomats and officials in the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Of the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, she said: “I actually sent him to Benghazi during the revolution… Some have said we shouldn’t be in dangerous places. Well, there are so many dangerous places in the world right now that that would eliminate a lot of the important work America needs to be doing… I don’t think we can afford to do that.”

She also described some of the actions taken by the Bush administration in its eight-year war against terror as “un-American” but did not offer specifics.