Hillary Clinton: Cantor's defeat will affect 2016
June 12th, 2014
12:59 PM ET
4 months ago

Hillary Clinton: Cantor's defeat will affect 2016

(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.

Putin on Clinton: 'It's better not to argue with women'

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.


Filed under: 2016 • Cuba • Eric Cantor • Hillary Clinton • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Not So Fast

    Her recent gaffs are indicative of her advanced age and the after effects of her brain injury. This will become apparent in the near future.

    June 12, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. just asking

    hahahaha... weren't all the lefties in here heralding the downfall of the tea party, how they were history, falling fast? guess what?! they are back and haven't forgotten they were targeted by obama's irs. democrats are going to have another 2010 type demolition this november. the american people don't like being lied to daily, having their healthcare wrecked and then be targeted by the irs. we're coming for you democrats!

    June 12, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Mike Hunt

    At the rate that the Mideast is descending in to chaos and the recent assertiveness of Russia and China, I believe the next president will have to display competency in the handling of foreign affairs. Hillary Clinton's lack of any discernible accomplishment as secretary of state will be more of an indictment against her than an asset.

    June 12, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Gary

    At least Hilary has the gut's to talk about it. John Bhoener dodges the question and goes on a 5 minute rant attacking the President. Once again, the head Republican has no answers. It just amazes me that as leader of congress you don't believe any of those problems you are ranting about should be fixed by this (Your) " Do Nothing" congress.

    June 12, 2014 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    Hillary – "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."

    Essentially, "I don't know".

    I don't blame Hill for this one. When she can say, essentially, "I don't know", and it becomes a big-time news story, only the media is at fault. Hillary says nothing and it is news.

    June 12, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. freedom

    This will affect 2016 in a positive way for Republicans. On the other hand, her – "What difference does it make!?" will reverberate all the way through the election – and beyond!

    June 12, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. rs

    Well, on this point she is correct. Cantor was one of the radical "young guns" of the GOP and already very considerably conservative. That he has lost to a hyper-radical TEA Party guy simply means that his district is going to strain somewhat more (even with gerrymandering) to elect him over a Democrat than they did with Cantor. At some point the GOP's candidates will be so radical they will become unelectable. It may not happen with this race, but the trend is quite clear. The GOP hasn't stopped moving to the Right, and in fact it's Rightward shift appears to be accelerating. Simply put, on issues like same-sex marriage, gun control, civil rights and more, the GOP is actually marginalizing itself.

    June 12, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Hillary Clinton: The Last Nail in the Coffin of the USA

    Hillary Clinton and Obama FAILED to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq and now the country is under seige from Al Quada that have flowed in from nearby Syria, which they also FAILED to address.

    Hillary Clinton would be just as a big a FAILURE as Obama has been. They have no real vision and are naive and delusional.

    June 12, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. rs

    Mike Hunt

    At the rate that the Mideast is descending in to chaos and the recent assertiveness of Russia and China, I believe the next president will have to display competency in the handling of foreign affairs. Hillary Clinton's lack of any discernible accomplishment as secretary of state will be more of an indictment against her than an asset.
    ______________________
    Remind me again- who started the war in Iraq- you know the one without funding and without an exit strategy?

    June 12, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Not So Fast

    Her recent gaffs are indicative of her advanced age and the after effects of her brain injury. This will become apparent in the near future.
    ----------------------------
    I'm not thrilled by all of the attention that Clinton has been getting, but what does the GOTP have to offer for 2016? The right wing has not laid a vision for anything since the 2008 presidential election. All that we have heard since 2009 has been the following: "No"; :Repeal and Replace"; "No"; "Birth Certificate, please."; "No"; "Impeach"; and more negativity and sloganeering than you can shake a stick at.

    June 12, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. sly

    Tea Party win = Democratic Landslide.

    The Republican Party is toast – heading for a 60%-30% drubbing in 2016.

    These are Great times for America, and President Clinton will ensure 8 more years of progressive constructive policies.

    June 12, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Hillary Clinton: The Last Nail in the Coffin of the USA
    Hillary Clinton and Obama FAILED to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq and now the country is under seige from Al Quada that have flowed in from nearby Syria, which they also FAILED to address.

    Hillary Clinton would be just as a big a FAILURE as Obama has been. They have no real vision and are naive and delusional.
    ---------
    Bush to Obama: "Dude – I invaded the wrong country and now Al Qaeda is coming in and 1000's of American soldiers died. whoops! Here you take over – bye!"

    June 12, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    hahahaha... weren't all the lefties in here heralding the downfall of the tea party, how they were history, falling fast? guess what?! they are back and haven't forgotten they were targeted by obama's irs
    ------------------------------–
    The Tea Party didn't beat Cantor. Cantor defeated Cantor. Lindsay Graham had the same positions, yet he won by a wide margin. Cantor's loss has little or nothing to do with the Tea Party, which has been fading nationwide and will continue to do so. The Tea Party's approval is somewhere in the low 20s. Keep dreaming while reality passes you by like it did in 2012.

    June 12, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. rs

    just asking

    hahahaha... weren't all the lefties in here heralding the downfall of the tea party, how they were history, falling fast? guess what?! they are back and haven't forgotten they were targeted by obama's irs. democrats are going to have another 2010 type demolition this november. the american people don't like being lied to daily, having their healthcare wrecked and then be targeted by the irs. we're coming for you democrats!
    ______________________________
    Yes, the TEA Party did pick off Mr. Cantor, but I think the record is at best mixed. Once again, however, you've missed the nuance. That is, the TEA Party (if it survives) will kill the GOP with it's hyper radicalism and extremist candidates. As far as the IRS and health care complaints- those are your opinion- and you should not expect that everyone thinks and feels as you do. The IRS "scandal" is just so much smoke, as is the Benghazi issue. 11 million more Americans getting health care insurance sure sounds like success to me- especially in the complete absence of a plan from the GOP.

    June 12, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. yeahright

    On the other hand, her – "What difference does it make!?" will reverberate all the way through the election – and beyond!
    -------–

    Only to those that that cannot read or understand the meaning of "context"

    "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime."

    June 12, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  16. Gunderson

    Whispers and Rumors,
    No doubt Hillary and the Liberal's want to sell you more Snake Oil. And some of you believe it! You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. The Liberal ajenda is on it's last legs. The Conservatives are alive and well. Probably a lot more housecleaning to come.

    June 12, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Silence DoGood

    @just asking
    hahahaha... weren't all the lefties in here heralding the downfall of the tea party, how they were history, falling fast? guess what?! they are back and haven't forgotten they were targeted by obama's irs. democrats are going to have another 2010 type demolition this november. the american people don't like being lied to daily, having their healthcare wrecked and then be targeted by the irs. we're coming for you democrats!
    --------
    You have seeing seeing some of the recent trends right?
    – TP defeats moderate GOP in primary
    – DEM defeats TP in election because of the radical nature of TP
    It is only 2 steps – surely you have been following this right?

    June 12, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    Very good omen, with Eric's defeat. USA finds progress. We need to remove these narrow thinking thugs from congress and senate. I presume this time Democrats will sweep the congress and senate as well. All say yes, on Hillary16.

    June 12, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Slade

    I think its mainly a subtle but concerted move to counteract all the craziness that has happened from the Obama administration. That gigantic shift to the left from Obama and friends has definitely shifted parts of the Republican base to the right. Until we get a more centrist leader I do not think there will be much progress. It doesn't help that Obama runs things like a Banana republic.

    June 12, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. Mike Hunt

    @rs
    Mike Hunt

    At the rate that the Mideast is descending in to chaos and the recent assertiveness of Russia and China, I believe the next president will have to display competency in the handling of foreign affairs. Hillary Clinton's lack of any discernible accomplishment as secretary of state will be more of an indictment against her than an asset.
    ______________________
    Remind me again- who started the war in Iraq- you know the one without funding and without an exit strategy?
    *********************
    Bush started the war in Iraq.
    Now that we have settled that point, we need to address competency in foreign policy in the next president. We can no longer afford to elect a president on the following criteria:

    1) That person comes from a family of prior president(s) i.e., Kennedy, Clinton or Bush. No thanks, this is not a monarchy.

    2) That person comes from a particular ethnic minority i.e., Obama is an African-American....so what? What did that ever have to do with his competency to be president?

    3) That person comes from a particular gender i.e., Hillary is a female....so what? What does that have to do with her competency to be president?

    The media likes to speak of Hillary Clinton's almost inevitability of being the next president. Ask Eric Cantor about inevitability.

    June 12, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @yeahright
    On the other hand, her – "What difference does it make!?" will reverberate all the way through the election – and beyond!
    ---–

    Only to those that that cannot read or understand the meaning of "context"

    "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime."
    ----------–
    You would think the radical right would at least pick a made up story that wasn't so easy to debunk.
    Oh well – Birthers part 2...

    June 12, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Ken in MO

    I am a Democrat but I am not as optomistic about 2014 or 2016 as some. Cantor didnt loose because he was out of touch...he lost because he was not extreme enough for the people on the right. Most Republican seem to get their news from Fox or Rush...scary...because Fox and Rush are not normal and lie about almost everything. It is clear that a large part of the Republican party are just simply bigots...that scares me. A once great party has been overrun by bigots and liars. I have great fear for the US for the first time in my life (I am 47). I am now convinced that there are more ignorant backwards people than there are forward thinking people....and that is horrible for our future as a country. The rest of the world now feels sorry for us...not because of Obama but because of our Republican Congress. Shameful and Embarrassing. God Help us!!

    June 12, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. The REAL Truth...

    @Slade – That gigantic shift to the left from Obama and friends has definitely shifted parts of the Republican base to the right.
    -------------------
    Puh-lease, Obama is BUSH 2 based on the policies he set out to accomplish for his "legacy".. the big difference being that he hasn't started any wars.. !!!
    He's about as left as the TP...

    June 12, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Slade

    I think its mainly a subtle but concerted move to counteract all the craziness that has happened from the Obama administration. That gigantic shift to the left from Obama and friends has definitely shifted parts of the Republican base to the right. Until we get a more centrist leader I do not think there will be much progress. It doesn't help that Obama runs things like a Banana republic.
    -------------------------–
    The "gigantic shift to the left from Obama" that you have perceived is a result of the abrupt right turn made by so many conservatives. Notice that I said "turn" and not "shift." You folks are still heading away from the center.

    BTW, people have noticed the fact that some primaries have elected the lesser extremists out of a field of extremists, and that your side has been calling them moderates. Yeah, we've noticed that. I suppose that Dave Brat meets your definition of a moderate, right?

    June 12, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Silence DoGood

    @Gunderson
    Whispers and Rumors,
    No doubt Hillary and the Liberal's want to sell you more Snake Oil. And some of you believe it! You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. The Liberal ajenda is on it's last legs. The Conservatives are alive and well. Probably a lot more housecleaning to come.
    -----------
    Liberals have taken over AND are on their last legs.
    Clinton is senile and brain damaged AND has pulled off the perfect top secret cover up
    Obama is a do-nothing community organizer AND is a totalitarian dictator
    Wait – once I put on my tin foil Hannity hat, I see what you mean. I feel so much better without logic.

    June 12, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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