In her element, Clinton cleans up some rollout missteps
June 11th, 2014
01:13 PM ET
5 months ago

In her element, Clinton cleans up some rollout missteps

Hillary Clinton will discuss her memoir "Hard Choices" in a town hall meeting at the Newseum in Washington at 5 p.m. ET on June 17. The former secretary of state, senator and first lady will take questions from moderator Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent, and members of the audience. The town hall will be simulcast on CNN International and CNN en Espanol.

Chicago (CNN) – In front of a supportive audience on Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to clean up a few missteps she made earlier in her much watched book roll out.

The "Hard Choices" tour sputtered at the start when she told ABC during her first interview that she and Bill Clinton were "dead broke" and in debt when they left the White House in early 2001. What Clinton left out was that her family had a massive book advance in the works, a sizable government pension, and the prospect of making millions on the speaking circuit.

Clinton was interviewed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton White House top aide and longtime confidant, at the second event of Clinton's "Hard Choices" memoir tour.

Even Emanuel finished a question about the comment with a sarcastic, "really?"

"That may have not been the most artful way of saying that you know Bill and I have gone through a lot of different phases in your lives," Clinton said. "That was then, this is now."

Hillary Clinton's numbers slightly edging down

She later added that her family has "been blessed," but noted that they have also "gone through ups and downs like a lot of people."

The Clintons did depart the White House in debt due to enormous legal fees. By the end of 2000, their debt totaled somewhere between $2.28 million to $10.6 million. Those bills were paid off by 2004, however.

The former secretary of state and senator from New York, who's seriously considering a run at the presidency in 2016, coupled that answer with a complete repudiation of trickle down economics, a conservative theory that tax breaks and money at the top trickles down to people in lower economic situations.

"I think the debate should be over in this country," Clinton said emphatically. "Trickle down economics does not work. Bill Clinton proved that 1000 percent."

Clinton also debuted a more succinct and direct answer to a question many Republicans have asked her: What was your biggest accomplishment at the State Department?

Hillary Clinton by the numbers

"Well the biggest accomplishment in the four years as secretary of state was helping to restore American leadership, and we did that in a number of ways," Clinton said, before enumerating a long list of achievements and diplomatic moves she made during her four-year tenure.

She noted bringing "an international coalition to bring Iran to the negotiating table" and "passing a treaty through the Senate… to get back to inspecting missile sites and lowering the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States." She also noted "building relations with China," standing "up for peace in the Middle East" and engineering "three face-to-face meetings between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas."

Clinton's critics have questioned her time at State, stating that she had no overarching doctrine or achievement. Clinton was asked about those questions during her ABC interview, to which she said, "We haven't had a doctrine since containment worked with the Soviet Union." Republicans seized on the answer as more proof that she can't name her accomplishments.

On Wednesday, though, Clinton's answer was direct and somewhat rehearsed.

The Chicago Ideas Week event was a welcome home of sorts for Clinton. Born in Chicago's suburbs and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, a number of Clinton's childhood friends lined the first few rows of the Harris Theater in downtown Chicago. Emanuel kicked off the event noting that though Clinton left when she was 18 – to go to Wellesley College and later to Arkansas with Bill Clinton – she "still and will forever be a Chicagoan at heart."

But the event was also a homecoming because of the way the audience fawned over Clinton. On Wednesday, men and women charged through the doors when they opened to get as close as possible to the former secretary of state. Each was given a copy of "Hard Choices" before the event and many flipped through the pages before the program started.

Mimicking the upbeat crowd , there were a number of light moments in the event, too.

The two joked that Emanuel, who served as a senior adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, tried but failed to control Hillary Clinton in the White House.

"Can't you control your wife Mr. President," Clinton said, mimicking Emanuel. "Nobody wants to talk to her, can you talk to her please," the mayor responded.

The former first lady also told the audience that she did not shy away from the title "feminist."

"A feminist is someone who believes a woman should have equal political, economic, social, cultural rights," Clinton said. "I don't see anything controversial about that at all."

What's not in Hillary Clinton's memoir?

Clinton devotes a few lines in her memoir to Emanuel, who served as Barack Obama's first chief of staff, describing him as the "glue" that kept Obama's "team of rivals" first cabinet together.

"He offered a friendly ear and an open door in the West Wing, and we talked frequently," Clinton writes, describing the Chicago mayor as a "a creative thinker, an expert in the legislative process, and a great asset to the President."

Chicago isn't as happy with Emanuel as Clinton is, though. Emanuel is up for reelection in 2014 and in a Chicago Sun Times poll released in May, only 29% of Chicagoans said they would support the mayor if the election were held today, a number only three percentage points higher than Toni Preckwinkle, a local county board president.

And in what's become routine for Clinton, she also commented on some news of the day, including the stunning primary defeat Tuesday night of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

"We just saw this race in Virginia where Eric Cantor, the second ranking Republican in the House, was defeated by a candidate who basically ran against immigrants," Clinton said, describing Dave Brat, the man who beat Cantor.

"His argument was this: there are Americans out of work, so why should we allow immigrants into our country to take those jobs? I think that is a fair question, but the answer is 'no' to throw out of work and deport the 11 million immigrants who are contributing already to our economy. The answer is to grow our economy to create more jobs."

CNN's Rob Yoon and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Related: Clinton blasts opponents of immigration reform

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton sings a 'sad song' about financial struggles


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    By the end of 2000, their debt totaled somewhere between $2.28 million to $10.6 million. Those bills were paid off by 2004, however.
    -----------------------------------
    I would call that being severely broke.

    June 11, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Gunderson

    AW,
    Goodbye Hillary. Don't let that book fall on you on the way out.

    June 11, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Donna

    "We just saw this race in Virginia where Eric Cantor the second ranking Republican in the house was defeated by a candidate who basically ran against immigrants," Clinton said, describing Dave Brat, the man who beat Cantor.
    --–

    What a lying fraud Hillary Clinton is. The guy who won wants our borders secured and our current immigration laws enforced. I know this sounds extremely radical to the far left law breaking/ignoring Democrats that want nothin gmore than a full scale invasion of this country by illegal aliens. Democrats are anti-law enforcement and anti-America.

    June 11, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Bill from GA

    " The "Hard Choices" tour sputtered at the start when she told ABC during her first interview that she and Bill Clinton were "dead broke" and in debt when they left the White House in early 2001. "

    Shake the Etch-A Sketch, Hill. See if you can find a more favorable message.

    June 11, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    The polls say many think her 'trustworthy'.

    REALLY??

    June 11, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Bill from GA

    Donna – " Democrats that want nothin gmore than a full scale invasion of this country by illegal aliens. Democrats are anti-law enforcement and anti-America. "

    One of the hardest things to do for someone who thinks of themselves as somewhat intelligent is to say:
    Donna, I agree with you.
    (Gagg, Choke! Golly, that was difficult)
    I would be more inclined to agree with D. cheney.

    June 11, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Bill from GA

    HILLARY – " The answer is to grow our economy to create more jobs."

    The illegals left and quit coming when W destroyed the world economy. As the economy recovers, especially here under Obama, more illegals are coming again.

    Hill's answer is to put out the welcome mat. Cheap illegal labor instead of putting our legal workers back to work. But we solve that by making them all legal! But then we need MORE illegal workers for the jobs legal workers won't do, at least not for what Biz is willing to pay. There is an infinite supply of illegal workers.

    How does that benefit the shrinking group of middle income workers who were born here, or who got here by following the rules?

    In Hill-Speak: "What difference does that make?" (Besides, Big-Biz needs cheap labor.)

    June 11, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    Conservatives: Paying off your debt is a good thing.
    The Clintons did it.
    Conservatives: Oh, then it is a bad thing that only socialists do.

    June 11, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    Not looking forward to two years of mean spirited personal attacks and meaningless 30 second sound bites. What is it about Hillary that brings out such visceral hatred and anger in conservatives?

    June 11, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Bill from GA

    HILLARY – " The answer is to grow our economy to create more jobs."

    The illegals left and quit coming when W destroyed the world economy. As the economy recovers, especially here under Obama, more illegals are coming again.

    Hill's answer is to put out the welcome mat. Cheap illegal labor instead of putting our legal workers back to work.
    ----------------------------
    Judging from your quote, Clinton said nothing of the kind that you suggest. You're embellishing her words with your own negative stereotypes and opinions of Clinton. Yes, it's that obvious.

    June 11, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Ol' Yeller

    @donna
    "Democrats are anti-law enforcement and anti-America."

    It isn't Democrats murdering police officers and innocent Wal Mart shoppers and draping our party flag over them (both the tea bagger flag and the Nazi flag; which I believe you wish were both flying over the White House), Hater.

    June 11, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. freedom

    Clean up? She's deep in it – we know all about her – nothing she can say will erase all the years of her scandals, lies, and self-serving deeds – which she has herself exposed to the world.

    June 11, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Ol' Yeller
    @donna
    "Democrats are anti-law enforcement and anti-America."

    It isn't Democrats murdering police officers and innocent Wal Mart shoppers and draping our party flag over them (both the tea bagger flag and the Nazi flag; which I believe you wish were both flying over the White House), Hater.
    -----------
    The stated threat of minority Tea Party violent overthrow of government and violence toward our laws and law enforcers has played out from time to time. Violent Theocratic Religious take over. I thought the Taliban was in a foreign country?

    June 11, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @Randy, San Francisco
    Not looking forward to two years of mean spirited personal attacks and meaningless 30 second sound bites. What is it about Hillary that brings out such visceral hatred and anger in conservatives?
    ----------
    A strong outspoken woman who doesn't act cute and stands for progress.

    June 11, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. 2_indy1600

    After the money paid for pardons on his last day in office, I would've thought the Clintons would"ve made a dent in the debt with Eric Holder's help. Even her baby bro got help. Pardongate tells alot, unless they've wiped it off the internet by now. $$$Money has never been a problem literally or ethically for the Clinton tag-team.

    June 11, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |