January 23rd, 2013
09:16 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton faces hearings with numbers on her side

Washington (CNN) - As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill today on the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, she comes equipped with one thing on her side: Sky-high public opinion numbers.

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday morning, just a few hours before the outgoing secretary of state testifies in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon, two-thirds of Americans say they have a favorable impression of Clinton, while just over one in four saying they have a unfavorable impression.

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An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released last week indicated that nearly seven in ten approved of the job Clinton was doing as America's top diplomat, with just a quarter of the public saying they disapproved.

But both surveys point to a partisan divide, with nearly all Democrats and two thirds of independents, but only a minority of Republicans, giving Clinton a thumbs up. But that partisan divide is not nearly as wide as it is in polling of President Barack Obama.

Clinton is expected to testify for 90 minutes before each committee and senior officials tell CNN that the secretary of state will not shy away from any tough questions and intends to assert responsibility for weak security at U.S. diplomatic posts, something that State Department is urgently addressing, senior officials tell CNN.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-California, met with Republicans on the House committee and urged them to be respectful of Clinton, a GOP member of the committee told CNN. While most lawmakers on both sides of the aisle genuinely do respect Clinton and don't have to be told, there was concern some new members may try to be combative in order to make an early name for themselves.

But GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" on Wednesday morning that Clinton is "going to get some very hard questions" on the State Department's role in handling security for diplomatic security in Libya before the attack, as well as what Clinton was doing the night of the violence.

Clinton was originally scheduled to testify last month but postponed her appearance as she was treated for illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her brain. The country's top diplomat returned to work just over two weeks ago.

While her overall numbers are very nice, it's best to take them with a grain of salt.

"One reason why Hillary Clinton's ratings are high may be that she is not running for office and holds a position that many Americans view as non-partisan. If she becomes an active candidate again, it would not be surprising to see her numbers decline," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "We saw this before with her. When she was first lady, her favorable ratings were often in the high 60's, but they dropped below 50% as soon as serious talk started of her running for the U.S. Senate from New York."

Clinton is expected to step down as secretary of state later this month, with the Senate expected to confirm Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts as her successor.

The big question, of course, is whether Clinton makes a second bid for the White House.

Clinton has repeatedly said that she intends to retire to private life once and she's added that another run for president is not in the cards for her.

"Look, I'm flattered. I am honored," she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer last year about calls by other Democrats for her to consider another run in 2016. "That is not in the future for me, but obviously I'm hoping that I'll get to cast my vote for a woman running for president of our country."

According to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted last month, 85% of Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic Party said they'd be very or somewhat likely to support Clinton if she makes another bid for the Democratic nomination, with two-thirds of Democrats questioned saying they would be very or somewhat likely to support Vice President Joe Biden if he runs. Other possible 2016 candidates mentioned in the survey trailed Biden by at least 10 points.

- CNN's Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, Elise Labott, Ted Barrett and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Congress • Hillary Clinton • Polls • State Department
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    What good are the facts with people have strong belief systems?

    January 23, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. John

    The Fauxx news hate machine has turned its glare off of her and onto our president and her numbers rise.

    January 23, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. rs

    I think most Americans see this farce for what it is. Republicans can act like no American diplomatic personnel have EVER been hurt or killed in the line of duty- especially in the Middle East or Africa, but the reality and history are very different. Clearly a tragic event, they simply want to score cheap political points and allow their old guys (Graham, McCain) to get just a little more air time.

    Curious, as we're likely to hear how the GOP/TP stripped State of $ 1 billion in needed security funds. Cause and effect in action.

    January 23, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Bruce H.

    She is stepping down anyway. They can't do anything to her. Therefore, all she has to do is take responsibility and the entire Obama administration is safe. Perfect cover-up!

    January 23, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. TPF

    She is not telling the truth and she knows it. This should be enough to keep her out of public office for the rest of her life.
    Enough of this family dodging the truth on everything. She looks like she is bored with the questions they are asking her.
    She had so much time to prepare these lies that she now believes what she's making up.

    January 23, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. baljeet

    She will become the best American president ever. We love you Hillary.

    January 23, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Jerry

    "two-thirds of Americans say they have a favorable impression of Clinton, while just over one in four saying they have a unfavorable impression." My Lord (NOT Obamalooney, PLEASE!) no wonder América is in such dire straits. I guess we deserve what we are getting from our clueless/lying so called Secretary of state and our equally clueless/lying Bully-in-Chief!

    I do still have hopes América will wake up from its slumber in time. One CAN hope,NO?!

    Oh well...

    January 23, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. 2km N of GZero

    What? No angry comments from McCain yet? Did somebody remind him of the phrase "fog of war"?

    January 23, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. shawn

    I couldn't get past the first paragraph of this article. It implies that the truth does not matter as long as the public likes you. Sadly, it is true. The sycophantic media makes it hard for the truth to come out. Or at the very least, come out in a timely fashion. I don't know where the "buck stops" with Benghazi, but this is probably bigger systemic screw up than has been portrayed in the "main stream" media.

    January 23, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. EVN

    These hearings are largely a dog and pony show. Some blowhard congressmen will appear to be tough, and in the end nothing will come of it. The breakdown of the public's views on Clinton being along partisan lines is also no surprise as the GOP has done a bang up job of marginalizing their party of "no", hopefully to the point of becoming history.

    January 23, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. Chris

    I know that CNN will do all they can to put Clinton into office, but she's responsible for this man's death and should pay. Besides that, exactly what did she accomplish in her political career? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Guess the poor and uneducated will once again swing the election down the road of destruction!

    January 23, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. modernman

    She is dancing around the real questions.

    January 23, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Redeye Dog

    Hillary: I take full responsibility but it was everyone else's fault, Congress, the Intelligence Community, my internal staff, contractors and the Republicans (who impeded in the authorization of funds for diplomatic security).

    But I traveled around the world more than any other Secretary of State!!

    January 23, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. Sniffit

    "she comes equipped with one thing on her side: Sky-high public opinion numbers."

    Right, because all the facts that have come out so far prior to this, which show this is really just a smear campaign scalp-hunt for for the GOP/Teatrolls...both an attempt to "get her" in preparation for 2016 and to desperately try to generate an excuse for impeaching Obama....all those facts don't count as "on her side" at all. Yawn.

    Watching CNN and the MSM paint their hamfisted, deliberately misleading, coutnerfactual narratives to try to control what the public "analysis" of the issues is can be likened to watching a 3 year old eat his fingerpaints and then vomit them on the paper.

    January 23, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. Redeye Dog

    Hillary: We had 4 dead Americans. At that point, what difference would it make if it was because of a video or by terrorism? What difference does it make that we misled the American people? We still had 4 dead Americans, right?

    January 23, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. Redeye Dog

    Meanwhile, during distracting off topic questioning by Democratic members of the committee: Trumpets in the background, fanfare, words of praise to a Hillary Clinton seemingly walking on water.

    January 23, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Redeye Dog

    Hillary: We did not have a clear picture of what went on, but as Americans in the absence of the facts, we just get on National television and propagate a message which will further our political agenda without any regard on who we use to deliver the message. I didn't tell her go on television and say those things.

    January 23, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Redeye Dog

    Chris Coons: Thanks to you, thanks to you, thanks to you, everything has been done! Now let's talk about anything but Bengazi..

    January 23, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |