How does Hillary Clinton make a decision?
July 1st, 2014
03:05 PM ET
3 weeks ago

How does Hillary Clinton make a decision?

Washington (CNN) - Hillary Clinton regularly talks about the "hard choices" she has had to make in her life – both professional and personal – and the impact those decisions have had on her.

But something she doesn't talk about much is the process she takes to get to those decisions.

In an interview with CSPAN's Steve Scully, though, Clinton described her decision making process as one where she both tries to "stay in touch" with her values but also isn't "afraid to change (her) mind" if the facts impacting the decision changes.

"What I do is to try to gather as much information as I can and stay in touch with those values, interests and security," Clinton said.

"Mentally as I go through the exercise of gathering information, consulting people, listening hard," she said, adding that she isn’t "afraid to change my mind."

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Clinton later said, "I might go into a process thinking this is what we must do and come out on the other side."

Clinton, who has been on a frenetic book tour for the last three weeks, has cast many of the decisions she made as a series of hard choices – the name of her memoir – where there are usually two sides to a complicated problem.

The former secretary of state is widely seen as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. And because of her likely presidential aspirations, Clinton's decision making process as America's top diplomat is widely questioned.

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No decision has been looked at with more scrutiny than the secretary's actions during the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, lost their lives.

Asked about whether she looks back on decisions and regrets them or if she moves on, Clinton said "you have to make a decision and you have to support that decision" in an answered that appeared to be an allusion to the controversial attack.

"Sitting on top of this big bureaucracy, with 70,000 employees around the world… you can't possibly know what is going on everywhere," Clinton said. "You have to rely on the systems that are created to gather information, evaluate it and then pass it on. There is really no way that any one person could read the millions of cables that came in during the time that I was secretary or really know what is happening in the many, many places that we have interests that are perilous."

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Clinton later added that secretary of state is "not a job that gives you a lot of restful nights."

The former first lady has been criticized for her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack and many of her Republican critics have said the deaths of four Americans should preclude her from holding higher office.

Clinton has said before she takes responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, and did so a number of times on her recent book tour. But to defend herself from the criticism, Clinton regularly says she "was not making security decisions" for the Benghazi compound and was not the person reading all the cables from Libya.

Scully also pressed Clinton on her relationship with both the media and her successor, Secretary of State John Kerry.

Clinton said that she and Kerry have talked "frequently about issues."

"I respect the position he is in," Clinton said. "He now has to make these hard choices. I am available to him and have been fortunate to talk to him about a number of issues over the last year and a half or so."

Near the close of the interview, Clinton bashed many of the stories written about her as "inaccurate or unimportant." She said she "can't" read all that is written about her.

"It's just overwhelming. I can't do it. So I skim it. If it's important it will come to me, I assume," Clinton concluded. "I can't possibly read it all. I would be doing nothing else."

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The nearly 50-minute interview will air on July 5 as part of the CSPAN's BookTV. Clinton has all but wrapped up the domestic tour for her memoir "Hard Choices" that took her to all four American time zones with events in over ten different states.

The former secretary of state now turns her focus overseas. For the first eight days of July Clinton will hold book events in France and Germany with the hopes of boosting book sales in foreign markets.

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Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Ol' Yeller

    "If you knew all along that I wasn't trying to insinuate something, then why accuse me of it"

    Becuase it is part of the republicant game...

    They accuse you of something.
    You defend yourself with reason and facts.
    The call you names and make up lies about Obama.
    You point out their hypocracy and defend the Preseident with facts and reason.
    They cry foul, accuse you of doing what they have been doing all along. They lament their status as a victim and claim the librul media is lying. They lick their wounds from the intellectual beating you gave them (while you were eating a sandwich and halfway dozing).

    They accuse of something.
    (repeat)

    July 1, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    @Christopher Stevens
    How did you arrive at the decision to not send help to us and leave us to die?
    -------------
    Classic "loaded question" like "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
    If you are innocent, you cannot answer yes or no.
    The conspiracy theorist will use either answer as a "proof".
    But let's dumb down the school system further........

    July 1, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @Christopher Stevens: "How did you arrive at the decision to not send help to us and leave us to die?"

    Better question to GW Bush: Why did you ignore the briefing on August 6, 2001 about al Qadea attack us with airplanes?
    Why did you let 13 attacks on US diplomatic missions occur during your presidency?

    Here are some FACTS about Benghazi that you'll never hear in the RWNJ echo chamber:

    A single diplomatic security official was listening to an audio feed of events in Benghazi. Security cameras in the U.S. consulate compound did record video of the events as they unfolded, and a U.S. surveillance drone camera did capture the last hour of the attack, but neither of those sources was watched real-time by officials in Washington, as the consulate video recordings were not recovered until weeks after the attack (in October).

    The CIA did rush security operatives to an American diplomatic compound in Libya within 25 minutes after it had come under attack and played a central role in the effort to fend off a night-long siege. The agency mobilized the evacuation effort, took control of an unarmed U.S. military drone to map possible escape routes, dispatched an emergency security team from Tripoli, the capital.

    The attack was a surprise; personnel did the best they could; tragically, 4 Americans died.

    Your inability to accept these facts is pathetic.

    July 1, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Ol' Yeller

    Do you have any intellectual honesty, Rudy? Any at all? Are you really trying to insinuate that the TEA Party are big spenders? ... blah ... blah ...

    And BTW- I won't insinuate they are big spenders, but they certainly are not fiscally responsible. They so far have been involved in the only lowering of America's credit rating in the history... of well, America.
    They laughed and threw parties when they wasted 24 billion in taxpayer dollars in their little tantrum they threw to shut down the goverment.
    They are nothing but the offshoot of the dick (head) cheney's of the world who famously said 'Deficits don't matter." then went on to prove this (in rwnj idiot land) by destroying our surplus left under Clinton and tunning a surplus into a 9 trillion dollar debt (and this was just what they put on the books- two wars were left off the books because it 'didn't fit their narrative').
    So 'big spenders', maybe not.
    Fiscally retarded.... absolutely.

    July 1, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @Donna: "Well isn't that Obama being a total hypocrite? We have all heard about his pen. Why doesn't he just issue an Executive Order and fix it in a few seconds? He could be the first to guarantee total income equality and set one salary for everybody in his administration, say $75,000. Why doesn't he put his pen where his mouth is?"

    Oh, you righties are such self-satisfied simpletons. How precious!

    July 1, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. Marty

    How does Hillary make a decision? What ever the polls say at the time say will benefit her the best.

    July 1, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. a little sad

    Christopher Stevens

    How did you arrive at the decision to not send help to us and leave us to die?

    July 1, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |

    Doesn't it disgust you just a little that you are trying to score political points by using the name of the Ambassador you are pretending to care about.?

    Help was sent. It was too late for the Ambassador and three others but they evacuated and saved many others.

    But that doesn't work with your fantasy.

    July 1, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. HenryMiller

    "...she both tries to "stay in touch" with her values but also isn't "afraid to change (her) mind" if the facts impacting the decision changes."

    Hillary's only "values" are ego and ambition, and all her decisions are made to stroke the first and feed the second.

    July 1, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. tom l

    Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote: July 1, 2014 01:30 pm:

    Do you have any intellectual honesty, Rudy? Any at all? Are you really trying to insinuate that the TEA Party are big spenders? ... blah ... blah ...
    ----
    A wise man would stay out of this losing argument, tom. I'm not insinuating anything. Tony D laid out his definition of who is responsible for a budget, and I applied it for him. Don't blame me because his own argument blew up in his face.

    ====

    I know you're not insinuating anything. You are blatantly calling them the biggest deficit spending congress in history. So, yes Rudy, you are being intellectually dishonest because you know for sure that the TEA Party is not the ones responsible for it. You are just, once again, trying to score points for your side while making false statements. It's Tuesday. It's the ticker. So nothing new here.

    -------–
    First you accuse me of trying to insuate something. If you knew all along that I wasn't trying to insinuate something, then why accuse me of it? Because you simply forgot. Any other reason raises ugly questions about your sanity. When you cannot remember what you write and say from one minute to the next that's called making it all up as you go along.
    ========
    You might want to read again, dear Rudy. You are the one that said "I'm not insinuating anything" and I agreed with you. Wow, you are more confused today than most days. You're right on another point (I believe this now 2 things today that you are correct about...a new record!). Should we be raising ugly questions about your sanity as it appears that you cannot remember what you write and say from one minute to the next. This is too awesome. Very sloppy of you, Rudy. We can chalk it up to a bad day. Sniffit must've called in sick and Tampa Tim must be on another assignment so it's gotta be tough handling the ticker all on your own.

    Also, typically "sarcasm" is much better when actually spoken as there is typically tone and intonation involved with sarcasm so any here on the ticker will easily be misunderstood.

    July 1, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. carolinagirl

    Why is CNN pushing Hillary? The woman has told so many lies. The Republicans will be playing videos of her proven lies over and over again if she runs. And "What difference does it make!?" will be the top tune playing on political ads. Run Hillary, please run.

    July 1, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. yeahright

    carolinagirl
    Why is CNN pushing Hillary? The woman has told so many lies. The Republicans will be playing videos of her proven lies over and over again if she runs. And "What difference does it make!?" will be the top tune playing on political ads. Run Hillary, please run.
    ------

    YET AGAIN
    "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."

    Context- What difference does it make?- to rwnj's- apparently none.

    July 1, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @carolinagirl
    Why is CNN pushing Hillary? The woman has told so many lies. The Republicans will be playing videos of her proven lies over and over again if she runs. And "What difference does it make!?" will be the top tune playing on political ads. Run Hillary, please run.
    --------------–
    And speaking of lies....
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important. The transcripts are easy to find online.

    July 1, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    @Chris..E.al
    Hillary was born down under or Galapagos somewhere like 0bama and not come to America ? Oh i was dreaming darn .
    ---------
    Oh no – a new conspiracy theory is born.
    You know work has started somewhere on the "What About Galapagos, Hillary?" clubhouse.

    July 1, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. tom l

    Ol' Yeller

    "If you knew all along that I wasn't trying to insinuate something, then why accuse me of it"

    Becuase it is part of the republicant game...

    They accuse you of something.
    You defend yourself with reason and facts.
    The call you names and make up lies about Obama.
    You point out their hypocracy and defend the Preseident with facts and reason.
    They cry foul, accuse you of doing what they have been doing all along. They lament their status as a victim and claim the librul media is lying. They lick their wounds from the intellectual beating you gave them (while you were eating a sandwich and halfway dozing).

    They accuse of something.
    (repeat)
    ============

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Or, maybe it's the democrats that do that. LOL. Apology accepted (although I know you would never do that because it takes a real man to admit they're wrong)

    July 1, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    --any GOP garbage is no good to this nation. These guys do not know as to what they say and do. These idiots are for one percent rich not for you, USA. Drive them away. Foreigners are invading learn this first.

    July 1, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    @ tom l,: I see you are once again. Do you ever get tired of trying to be morally superior than everyone else, or is it that your arrogance has simply gotten the better of you?

    July 1, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. Matt

    Im not going to vote for the old out of touch millionaire no matter how sorry she feels for herself. Hillary your village called they want you back!

    July 1, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Christopher Stevens

    Our 3am phone to you Hillary was much earlier actually, you didn't even have to get woken up to take it. But you hung up on us. You went to bed as we were attacked and fought to save our lives. I wonder, do you have trouble sleeping now? Why should anybody in the armed forces or serving our country abroad trust you again?

    July 1, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Tom l

    The Real TP,

    Please explain. How did I come off as arrogant? Because I caught Rudy fibbing? As a libertarian, you should know that I certainly do not feel morally superior to anyone. People have the right to live and be free.

    July 1, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Val

    Good for Hillary but we are long ways off. We will be happy to have someone and anyone that can make a decision and play well with others to get something accomplished. CNN, why the full court press on Hillary? We get it that she is a viable candidate but this is getting seriously over the top.

    July 1, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Ol' Yeller

    tom l wrote: July 1, 2014 01:30 pm:

    Do you have any intellectual honesty, Rudy? Any at all? Are you really trying to insinuate that the TEA Party are big spenders? ... blah ... blah ...
    --
    I know you're not insinuating anything. You are blatantly calling them the biggest deficit spending congress in history. So, yes Rudy,

    You might want to read again, dear Rudy. You are the one that said "I'm not insinuating anything

    Wow, you are more confused today than most days

    Does any other reasonable person see by these posts who is confused, lying, or just plain insane? tom I cuts and pastes the previous posts showing he is the one putting words in Rudy's mouth, then claiming it is Rudy doing so to him. Then does his condenscending BS post of knocking down the the strawman he just built, insulting Rudy, and patting himself on the back for his own self delusional intellectual dishonesty.
    Yes, it is just another day on the ticker where tom i lives in his own little right wing bubble.

    LOOK OUT! Here comes the post from tom i 's right wing bubble where he claims he is not in the right wing bubble.
    How amusing it is when tom i finishes his 1/2 hour of home schooling every morning and earns 14 hours of ticker time from his mommy for his regurgitation of hannity talking points from the night before so he can get on here and continue his constant defense of his right wing buddies... even though he isn't right wing... no way!
    oh yeah... then he will include 16 sentences explaining how he thinks for himself, but all 'the gang' don't because though they all post different ideas and ways of thinking for themselves, their consensus that he is a tool means they don't think for themselves (yeah, the sky is blue... that doesn't mean I'm a Canadian because of most of them would agree with that) and then he'll give me a homework assignment of 29 rhetorical questions delivered in his condescending, "i'm smarter than everyone else' manner. and blah friggin' blah, blah, blah...
    Same old same old from the right wing bubble....

    July 1, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Dumbas[R]ocks

    How does Hillary make a decision?

    She looks at all the options, and then uses her intelligence to decide.

    Then for the intellectually under-developed she makes a show of flipping a Teatard in the air to see if the -tard lands heads or tails up.....and then she tells the Teatard true-believers that she made her decision the [R] way.....by random cherry picking of ideology based on how the Teatards are positioned.

    July 1, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    Decisions, decisions:
    Ms.Clinton – considers facts then moves forward with a balanced approach fostering progress and freedom.
    GOP – just say NO like a petulant 5 year old.
    Tea Party – ask rich white corporate donors, then say God told you so, then blame socialism when it doesn't work.

    July 1, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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