Hillary Clinton walks tightrope on Iran, defends State record
May 14th, 2014
12:26 PM ET
2 months ago

Hillary Clinton walks tightrope on Iran, defends State record

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton's speech on Wednesday to the American Jewish Committee was a tightrope act where the former first lady offered a vocal defense of her dealings with Iran as secretary of state while also expressing skepticism about current negotiations on the country's nuclear program.

One the one hand, Clinton used her remarks to defend her overall record as secretary of state. She called the process of "making policies at the highest levels" a "balancing act with an endless set of tough calls" where "there are always choices we later regret, consequences we do not see, alternative paths we wish we had taken."

Speaking to an audience of prominent Jewish leaders, Clinton especially focused on her efforts to end Iran's nuclear program and strengthen relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"When I left as secretary and passed the baton on to Secretary (of State John) Kerry, we were positioned to really explore whether we had set the table well enough to see changes that were sufficient to meet our legitimate objections to Iran's behavior and its future plans," Clinton said.

But at the same time, Clinton told the audience she remained skeptical that Iran would follow through on international negotiations aimed at halting its nuclear program and are currently spearheaded by Kerry.

Clinton said that while it "is the time to give diplomacy space to work," she remains "skeptical the Iranians will follow through and deliver."

"I have seen many false hopes dashed through the year, but nonetheless this is a promising development and we need to test it to see what can be achieved," Clinton added. "From my perspective, we cannot and should not accept any agreement that endangers Israel or our own national security."

Earlier this year, six world powers and Iran reached a deal on the framework for comprehensive negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program. In addition to political discussions, the two sides have started technical work, according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and have set a timetable for meetings over the next four months, with a framework for further deliberations.

But the negotiations have not turned into a permanent deal and some in the America Jewish community – as well as leaders in Israel – have expressed skepticism about the negotiations.

Clinton echoed the skepticism in her remarks to rounds of applause. To get an agreement, Clinton said, "we will have to be tough, clear eyed, and be ready to walk away and increase the pressure if need be. No deal is better than a bad deal."

Clinton – who is widely seen as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 – has long been a vocal and outspoken defender of Israel and American Jews. When she ran for president in 2008, her standing within the Jewish community was at an all-time high and Jewish voters favored her over then-Sen. Barack Obama in the nomination fight.

Clinton slightly edges down in CNN 2016 poll

But after losing to Obama, Clinton signed on to be the new President's secretary of state and the face of his foreign policy. Over the next four years, some Jewish leaders said Clinton's once-consistent, outspoken leadership on Israel was hamstrung by her role as Obama's top diplomat.

"We now have this deal with Iran brewing," Jack Rosen, the head of American Jewish Congress, told CNN earlier this year. "The community would like to know where she would come out on these Iranian discussion taking place. How does she see the future outcome out if?"

During her remarks, Clinton also touched on negotiations between Israel and Palestine, noting that Clinton held three face-to-face talks with leaders from each country as secretary of state. Clinton said there wasn't "any great mystery about what a final peace deal might look like" and backed a two-state solution.

She also spoke passionately about the relationship between Israel and the United States, something, she said, that would "remain fixed" despite unanswered questions and choices on the international state.

"America will always have Israel's back through every up and down. That is what we do, that is who we are," she said, adding "In Israel's story, we see our own."

Clinton has cast doubt on the negotiations with Iran in the past, telling an audience in March that she was "personally skeptical" of the talks.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Iran • State Department
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Tom l

    Wait one second! THAT must have been the look on her face when Hillary told the father of the fallen navy seal at his funeral several days after the Benghazi attack that we were going to arrest the guy (for tax evasion) that made the video.

    May 14, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. Tommy G

    When I left as secretary and passed the baton on to Secretary (of State John) Kerry, we were positioned to really explore whether we had set the table well enough to see changes that were sufficient to meet our legitimate objections to Iran's behavior and its future plans," Clinton said.
    ----

    Wow... she spent FOUR YEARS setting the table FOR FAILURE. All she does is spout gibberish and rubbish that has no substance or meaning. She did SQUAT in 4 years as the Middle East went up in flames while she jetted around the world as US ally after ally was thrown under the bus by Obama. She also did JACK with regards to Iran and their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    Hillary Clinton took a 4 year world wind tour on our dime. She accomplished NOTHING in those 4 years. Her one "accomplishment" was the infamous Russian Reset and we all know what a disastrous failure that has been, especially for the Ukraine. She is as clueless as Obama when it comes to foreign policy.

    May 14, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Lily

    Anyone especially from the GOP side who thinks will step over the head of Hillary, might think twice, thrice or more. Hillary is not an easy person to be intimidated. Doctor Karl Rove knows it, may be thats why he has initiated smear attacks on her.

    May 14, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    It's funny how pictures trigger memories... Since Rover made his declaration about Hillary the other day, now whenever I see a picture of Hillary it reminds me of Rover and I think back to election night 2012 and Rover's meltdown. So now when I see Hill, I google Rover meltdown which prompts me to google Queen Anne's meltdown and I get the biggest laugh.

    Comicview and Def Comedy Jam, you have nothing on the Rover and Queen Anne meltdown!!! 😹😹😹😹

    May 14, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Wait one second! THAT must have been the look on her face when Hillary told the father of the fallen navy seal at his funeral several days after the Benghazi attack that we were going to arrest the guy (for tax evasion) that made the video."

    5 minutes to Benghazi...definitely...def...definitely 5 minutes to Benghazi....

    May 14, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. Marty

    This gal needs to retire.

    May 14, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @Tom l
    Wait one second! THAT must have been the look on her face when Hillary told the father of the fallen navy seal at his funeral several days after the Benghazi attack that we were going to arrest the guy (for tax evasion) that made the video.
    ---------–
    Ahhh the Beavis and Butthead conspiracy come back: "uh huh – Dude I made fun of the picture of that lady – uh uh"
    Then, Birther. Now, Benghazist.

    May 14, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Vlad Puteen

    Hey Hillary my girl!! Thank you so much for that little reset button!! I have pushed it and reset back to the good old days of the hungry Russian Bear. Couldn't have done it without you and my good knee slapping flexible buddy Barackie. I hope you win the White House in 2016 so we can continue to do business. Been very, very good for me.

    May 14, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. rs

    Tommy G

    When I left as secretary and passed the baton on to Secretary (of State John) Kerry, we were positioned to really explore whether we had set the table well enough to see changes that were sufficient to meet our legitimate objections to Iran's behavior and its future plans," Clinton said.
    --

    Wow... she spent FOUR YEARS setting the table FOR FAILURE. All she does is spout gibberish and rubbish that has no substance or meaning. She did SQUAT in 4 years as the Middle East went up in flames while she jetted around the world as US ally after ally was thrown under the bus by Obama. She also did JACK with regards to Iran and their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    Hillary Clinton took a 4 year world wind tour on our dime. She accomplished NOTHING in those 4 years. Her one "accomplishment" was the infamous Russian Reset and we all know what a disastrous failure that has been, especially for the Ukraine. She is as clueless as Obama when it comes to foreign policy.
    ______________________
    Remind me again- what were the foreign policy successes of Republican George Bush? Let's see, he lost Georgia to Putin (and then went fishing). He called the Clintons "obsessed" by Al Qaeda- which resulted in 9/11 happening. He started the post 9/11 war on terrorism with an invasion of the wrong country- that killed at least 125,000 innocent civilians. Does that sound like "success" to you?

    May 14, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. Warren

    How soon we forget things...
    "During the George W. Bush period, there were 13 attacks on various embassies and consulates around the world. Sixty people died."

    I don't remember the outrage.

    May 14, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Thomas

    With all the information and technology available in todays world , we as humans are confined to reaction times and communication breakdowns .

    The improvement has been slow , becoming even more bureaucratic since 911.

    As for Karl Rove , look at how his information predicted a Romney victory in 2012 ! Bad info In , Bad Info OUT !

    May 14, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Hillary Clinton -- Butcher of Benghazi

    Please wear red Hillary.... It suits you better and will remind us all of the blood on your hands.

    May 14, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Tom l

    I'm not a birther. His mother is an American and so is he. Nice effort though.

    So then since this is a "conspiracy" please do give a rational explanation as to why she would say days after the attack, when it was 100% for sure that it was a planned attack and had nothing to do with a video, that we were gonna get the guy who made the video? Why would she say that? She messed up and slipped there which gives incontrovertible evidence that she was covering up something.

    May 14, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Tom l

    But I do appreciate your efforts to dodge, deflect and obfuscate. You have learned well from Sniffit and Rudy

    May 14, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    --Israel is a foul player, that wants to use USA for its own purpose to tackle problems with Palestine regardless of Israel being faulty. But these two things are totally different when it comes to Rouhani acceptance of international deal of inspecting Teheran's nukes inspection. It said clearly, "we will allow it". Where is the problem? Hillary needs a stand-firm on it not letting Israel play with America.

    May 14, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Tampa Tim

    The brain dead will continue to exploit the deaths of 4 Americans with their "Fundraising Off Benghazi," because that is what lower life forms do.

    May 14, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Republicans will always be able to exploit the brain dead with their "Fundraising Off the Deaths of 4 Americans in Benghazi." Their followers cannot remember the 3000 killed on 9-11-2001, the 15 embassy attacks under the Bush error that killed 50 Americans, the unnecessary wars that killed 4500 soldiers and wounded 45,000 soldiers.

    May 14, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Name. willard

    No vote support clinton hillary for her presdient 2016 also clinto.n hillary was damage her brain with blood clot and weak health
    Clinton hillary was fault riot with all country with iraq middle east. Benghizina syrian
    Us untied state should kick out f clinton hillary 2016

    May 14, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    I'm not a birther. His mother is an American and so is he. Nice effort though.

    So then since this is a "conspiracy" please do give a rational explanation...[blah blah blah]"

    ...definitely 5 minutes to Benghazi....

    May 14, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Tom l

    Sniffit,
    Your answer says it all. You have no rational explanation. And I think it's already time for Benghazi. It's not 5 minutes away. It's here, big guy.

    May 14, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. Tommy G

    rs
    Remind me again- what were the foreign policy successes of Republican George Bush?
    -–

    I guess you didn't notice this story was about Hillary Clinton. Can't you talk about all of Hillary Clinton's accomplishments in her 4 years as Secretary of State? Wonder why that is? Answer: None to list.

    Same old leftie smoke and mirror show here.... Lies, lies, smoke and mirrors with lots of lipstick on the pig. I guess it worked for Obama so you all think you can run the same scam again on the American people.

    May 14, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    BENGHAZI

    Rah. Rah.

    May 14, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Tom l

    Clarification time!

    Fundraising off Benghazi = bad
    Fundraising off Sandy Hook = great!

    Here's a hint, both are deplorable yet both are common from the repubs and the dems.

    May 14, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Dems in PA

    @ Tom l
    Wait one second! THAT must have been the look on her face when Hillary told the father of the fallen navy seal at his funeral several days after the Benghazi attack that we were going to arrest the guy (for tax evasion) that made the video.

    --------

    No; that will be the look on her face when THEY are tried for treason; the failure on Benghazi is not an impeachable offence; its treason.

    May 14, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Your answer says it all. You have no rational explanation. And I think it's already time for Benghazi. It's not 5 minutes away. It's here, big guy."

    Yawn. I don't need "rational explanations" for a deliberately mischaracterized series of events that drips with tinfoil hatted conspiracy theories. Moreover, it's been "here" for 2 years. The "5 minutes" refers to your redundant, clockwork perseveration of your conspiracy theories, while alluding to the borderline catatonic/sleepwalk nature of your obsessive behaviors.

    May 14, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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