Hillary Clinton walks tightrope on Iran, defends State record
May 14th, 2014
12:26 PM ET
5 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. it must be said

    Hillary Clinton was the very first person to lie to the American people about a video causing demonstrations in Benghazi and the attack on the consultate that killed 4 Americans. Why would we elect another liar? Haven't we learned our lesson about electing liars like Clinton and Obama?

    May 14, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. freedom

    How can she defend a record so scarred – with blood – and rampant with lies? The American people need to wake up – they've been brutally deceived and manipulated.

    May 14, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. 2_indy1600

    Hillary No-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal Clinton is all about deliberation, discussion, and unforseen consequences. I hope she's working with a net.

    May 14, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Hillary Clinton -- Butcher of Benghazi

    Hillary Clinton denied them adequate security even after numerous previous attacks.
    Hillary Clinton CUT their security even after numerous previous attacks and requests to increase it.
    Hillary Clinton did nothing to send help while the attack was taking place.
    Hillary Clinton LIED about what happened to the American people.
    Hillary Clinton LIED to the families of four dead Americans.
    Hillary Clinton wrongfully jailed the maker of the video to validate her lies.
    Hillary Clinton is a self serving monster.

    May 14, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    CNN's daily promotion of Hillary. Come one CNN........just go ahead and endorse her......and be honest about what you are DOING!

    May 14, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    Occam's Razor applied to Benghazi:
    – violent people attacked in a dangerous place
    – initial assessment was wrong
    – after a few days the assessment was corrected

    May 14, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Warren

    Hillary Clinton - Butcher of Benghazi
    Hillary Clinton denied them adequate security even after numerous previous attacks.Due to budget cuts by republicans
    Hillary Clinton CUT their security even after numerous previous attacks and requests to increase it. Due to budget cuts by republicans
    Hillary Clinton did nothing to send help while the attack was taking place. Due to budget cuts by republicans
    Hillary Clinton LIED about what happened to the American people. Did not lie.
    Hillary Clinton LIED to the families of four dead Americans. Did not lie
    Hillary Clinton wrongfully jailed the maker of the video to validate her lies. Did not
    Hillary Clinton is a self serving monster. Is not.

    May 14, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. The REAL Truth...

    @Hillary Clinton - Butcher of Benghazi
    Hillary Clinton denied them adequate security even after numerous previous attacks.
    Hillary Clinton CUT their security even after numerous previous attacks and requests to increase it.
    Hillary Clinton did nothing to send help while the attack was taking place.
    Hillary Clinton LIED about what happened to the American people.
    Hillary Clinton LIED to the families of four dead Americans.
    Hillary Clinton wrongfully jailed the maker of the video to validate her lies.
    Hillary Clinton is a self serving monster.
    ------------------------------–
    You are aware that Stevens died from smoke inhalation after the attack took place and was indirect collateral damage from it? Of course not...!!
    You are aware that Stevens was offered and declined additional security at the location as he was well liked by Libyans and wasn't concerned about his safety? Of course not..!!
    You are aware that Stevens was rescued by Libyans after the attack? Of course not !!
    You are aware that the video maker – that caused numerous riots in other countries – was not jailed by Hilary? Of course not..!!
    You are aware that your post is inaccurate, juvenile and has no impact on her electability? Of course not.. !!

    May 14, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Liberal_garbage

    Maybe she should hit a reset button with them, that worked great with Russia. She's a failure and a liar.

    May 14, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. JJR

    Hillary...no accomplishments so as qualified as Obama for president..

    May 14, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Warren

    The REAL Truth...

    Thank you....

    May 14, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Warren

    The REAL Truth...

    I think it's Donna.....

    May 14, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Chris-E...al

    Both Iran and the dems are still spinning destruction 0nes just a little faster and messy than the other both lie and try to be sneaky .

    May 14, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Hillary Clinton -- Butcher of Benghazi

    The REAL Lies....
    You are aware that Stevens died from smoke inhalation after the attack took place and was indirect collateral damage from it? Of course not...!!
    --–
    He took refuge in a safe room and died when the attackers set the buliding on fire. Indirect collateral damage? You are as bad as Hillary Clinton.

    You are aware that Stevens was offered and declined additional security at the location as he was well liked by Libyans and wasn't concerned about his safety? Of course not..!!
    ---
    He didn't decline additional security. Enough of your lies. Why would he decline what he had been begging for for months?

    You are aware that Stevens was rescued by Libyans after the attack? Of course not !!
    ---
    He was DEAD. You don't rescue dead people, you recover the body. He was found by people who showed up after the attack to vandalize and scavenge the compound.

    You are aware that the video maker – that caused numerous riots in other countries – was not jailed by Hilary? Of course not..!!
    --
    She promised the families of the dead he would be jailed and he was. Clinton and Obama set lose their dogs to bolster their claim of the video causing the attack. More smoke to conceal their lies.

    May 14, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. rla

    H Clinton like all progressives starts by outlining all the things that can go wrong in decision making??? Trouble is they ALL went wrong or noplace- Go back to Ark. and enjoy retirement

    May 14, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. Hillary Clinton -- Butcher of Benghazi

    In response to the leftist lies about funding cuts being the cause of reduced security:

    In testimony Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Charlene Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, was asked, “Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which led you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”

    Lamb responded, “No, sir.”

    Recall that Lamb is the person who denied requests from the top diplomatic security officer in Libya to retain a 16-man team of military personnel who had been protecting diplomats.

    May 14, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. jce3227

    Hillary Clinton isn't anymore responsible for the attacks on Benghazi, than the Reagan admin would be for the Beiruit embassy attacks, that killed 63, unlike the 4 that died at Benghazi. The truth is attacks on these facilities happen all the time, all over the world, it's nothing new. What is new however is the Republicans trying to politicize this incident, when they know darn well their only purpose is to attack Hillary Clinton for political reasons. Shameful, this isn't about politics, it's about doing our best to prevent these things from happening again, and we can't do that, if one side is all about the 2016 election, and not about fixing the mistakes that were made. The Republican party, use to be the party of reason, now the Enquirer has more credibility than they do, that party has been hijacked by extremists.

    May 14, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Accountability

    The Ambassador in Benghazi – man on ground left a safe place – thought he was “liked” – should bear some responsibility for his action – he action expose SS covert operations

    May 14, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Who cares what this incompetent accomplice to murder thinks about anything? She already proven her incompetence with Benghazi, her FAILED Russian Reset fiasco, having $6 BILLION go missing from the State Dept. but I'm sure all of the lefties would say the same thing as Clinton.... What does it all matter?!!!

    We have to elect a woman so we can say we elected the first woman president, it doesn't matter that she is a no accomplishment failure that failed miserably under pressure. It is all about celebrity, just like Obama. And after 8 years of his record unemployment, many brain dead people on the left will still buy into that insanity.

    May 14, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. sly

    Hillary, don't give up on negotiations with Iran. Yes, be careful, but Iran is a major world power, and we will seek a diplomatic solution to their alleged nuclear weapon development.

    Hillary, as one of the most respected Secretary of States in history, you have the power to bring an end to the sabre-rattling that threatens world peace.

    I have confidence in you. The world has confidence in you. This will end well.

    May 14, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    We got serious tin foil hats coming out today. I smell fear. Go Ms.Clinton!

    May 14, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. tom l

    @jce3227,
    When the attacks happened under Reagan, did he falsely and with every intention to mislead, tell the American public is what about a video?

    The ones you should be blaming for making this political is Clinton and Obama. They are the ones that decided that a cover up was necessary.

    May 14, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. AzDem

    Ok Folks! Where were you when Bush was in office? Gulf War!

    May 14, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  24. rs

    Gad, the Right is all twisted up on the Benghazi nonsense today. It is simply amazing at the group hatred, and vitriol, all with absolutely no logic, facts or evidence. This IS the delusion of the Right in action. You can call Ms. Clinton out all you want, but you have no FACTS with which to do so. You then continue to ignore the same, and even greater number of State Department employees that have been killed under remarkably similar conditions in many other nations under previous administrations, yet you continue to dig in on this one event.

    This my friends is why rational beings everywhere think the GOP is either utterly delusional, or because of the fundraising associated with this issue, utterly without moral compass. Your choice, I guess, but you really need to figure out the only people buying this echo chamber load are the conspiracy-crazies. Real voters left this one behind in 2012. You should too- or maybe waste your time figuring out who really killed Lincoln, or what sunk the Maine.

    May 14, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Warren

    Hillary Clinton - Butcher of Benghazi

    Your facts are from FOX.... That tells a lot..

    May 14, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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