(CNN) – Hillary Clinton argued Thursday that the ripple effect of Eric Cantor's crushing primary defeat will extend to 2016.
"I think it shows the continuing conflict within the Republican Party over its direction," said the potential presidential candidate. "That will be a challenge. It may not affect necessarily the outcome of the elections in November–we'll see–but it will certainly have long-term implications for 2016 and maybe beyond."
The former secretary of state's comments came at a discussion in New York City hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, where she talked about her new memoir, "Hard Choices." It was the fourth public event she's made since launching her bustling book tour on Tuesday.
Cantor, the House Majority Leader, was bested Tuesday's GOP primary by Dave Brat, a little-known candidate with grassroots support, in a shocking defeat in Virginia's 7th Congressional District. Some analysts were quick to say that Cantor's position on immigration–in which he tried to push for some reform but also tried to appease the conservative base–was the defining factor for his loss.
But Clinton pointed to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who easily won his primary Tuesday against a bunch of more conservative challengers. Graham was a co-sponsor of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate last year. Clinton, a former of senator from New York, said the contrast between the two races was "telling."
"What Graham said was when you're for something, you need to be all in and not try to be half in, half out," she said. "But I don't know that we really can draw conclusions yet, other than it's going to be an interesting leadership struggle within the Republican Party."
Her answer was the most political moment in the discussion, which covered a wide variety of international issues she dealt with at the State Department during her four-year tenure.
And while they discussed serious matters, Clinton took the opportunity to pepper the conversation with humor. At one point, the moderator, CFR President Richard Haass, began asking a question with: "You dealt with some fairly strong personalities…"
"I like to think that the same is true," Clinton jumped in, pointing to herself before letting out a loud laugh.
Talking about the importance of getting to know foreign leaders, she said there were "obvious exceptions" of people with whom it was "very difficult to build relationships."
"I'm talking about you, Vladimir," she said to laughs, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Clinton and Putin have engaged in some recent sparring through the media.
While she writes about it in her book, Clinton also elaborated Thursday on her position against the Cuban embargo, saying she urged the Obama administration to lift it.
"The embargo is Castro's best friend. It provides Castro an excuse for everything," she said.
She argued the embargo is frequently raised as an issue with other countries in Latin America, who blame the U.S. for restricting Cuba's economy. But Clinton said she wants to "change the psychology of this issue."
"We've been in a corner for too long, we need to get out of the corner," she said, adding that the U.S. needs to improve its relations with the Western Hemisphere for strategic purposes.
"If we do that, we will be much better positioned to deal with all else that goes on in the world. It will be difficult to get it to the point I would like to see it unless we clear away the accusations against the United States over the embargo."
She was also asked about how the State Department managed any problems caused by WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website that's leaked troves of state secrets and classified diplomatic cables since 2010.
Clinton said the leaks put at risk certain diplomats, personnel and other individuals who were working with the State Department. She said former U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz was pulled from the country because of security threats he received.
"We had to hustle hard to get it back in the box as much as we could to protect people, to move people where necessary," she said. "And then I went on an apology tour, starting with multitudes of phone calls and some personal meetings with leaders who were particularly aggrieved by what had been reported."
"We also found out that a lot of our diplomats are really good writers–very colorful writers," she added, as the audience laughed.
One of the cables from Cretz, for example, referred to then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as "mercurial and eccentric," and described a "voluptuous" blonde Ukrainian as his nurse and companion.
CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Brianna Keilar and Dan Merica contributed to this report.