Hillary Clinton's record at State under fire, again
April 22nd, 2014
07:40 PM ET
9 years ago

Hillary Clinton's record at State under fire, again

(CNN) - The back-and-forth between Republicans and defenders of Hillary Clinton’s record as America’s top diplomat is flaring anew.

On Tuesday, a reporter asked agency spokeswoman Jen Psaki to "identify one tangible achievement" from a key project executed under Clinton's leadership - the first audit of the State Department.

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That review was aimed at identifying how the agency could become more efficient, accountable and effective at carrying out diplomacy and delivering aid worldwide.

"I am certain that those who were here at the time, who worked hard on that effort, could point out one," Psaki responded.

That answer drew a sharp response from the Republican National Committee, which said it was another illustration of what the GOP regards as Clinton’s lackluster record from her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to early 2013.

“It speaks volumes that the State Department is having trouble naming the accomplishments from Secretary Clinton’s tenure," RNC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

"Americans are quite familiar with Hillary Clinton’s role regarding Benghazi and the failed Russia Reset initiative, but they’re still scratching their heads on what exactly she accomplished as the secretary of state,” Wilcox said.

Later, the State Department provided a list of seven changes resulting from the 2010 audit. They included the reorganization and creation of undersecretary positions and the establishment of three bureaus aimed at countering terrorism, promoting American energy interests and helping civilian leaders of the agency prevent conflict and violence.

“Hard Choices,” Clinton's book about her years at the State Department, goes on sale June 10, providing her with a chance to tout what she sees as her successes.

In the meantime, Republicans continue to try to fill the political vacuum with repeated criticism of her diplomatic record, which polls show is a positive with voters ahead of a potential 2016 White House bid.

While Clinton stays relatively mum on the subject, the defense of her record at the State Department is left to her allies and Correct the Record, a spinoff of Democratic super PAC American Bridge. It was founded to deflect Republican attacks that might endanger a Clinton candidacy before she's even decided whether to run.

The group points to a list of 11 achievements on its website. It credits her with restoring America's leadership and standing in the world, building and maintaining a coalition to enact unprecedented sanctions against Iran, her role in a nuclear missile reduction treaty with Russia and her support for the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"And, yes, you can also find information on her implementation of (audit)-inspired reforms, including the integration of women into the secretary of state policy framework and ensuring our economic, energy, and environmental goals serve U.S. national security interests," senior adviser Burns Strider told CNN.

But without major achievements to point to, like progress on Mideast peace, and U.S.-Russian relations at a post-Cold War low despite her attempt to reset them, arguments for her accomplishments are modest.

Even Clinton herself has struggled to clearly articulate concrete examples of her success.

"I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race," Clinton told an audience at a recent event in New York when she was asked about her triumphs in that job. "You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton."

CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • State Department
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. debdas patnaik

    "hand off the baton"..wow...the bottom line is achievements that are tangible...not such inane and generalist comments.

    April 22, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    N0 Kidding she lost to 0bama she must hold all the answers in her head to fix our land . Whatever ?

    April 22, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. McBob79

    Regardless of how you feel about Ms. Clinton, any reasonable observer has to view Benghazi as a major state department and administration failure where American lives were lost and didn't need to be.

    April 22, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  4. Harold Read

    The State Department only "misplaced" $6 billion during Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State. What matter does it make?

    April 22, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  5. charlie avila

    We don't want ms. Clinton for usa president. It will be a disaster for the country!....

    April 22, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. Charles Wren

    Well Congress certainly has achieved a lot over the same period hasn't it. Particularly the ever obstructive, backward looking Republican party.

    April 22, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  7. Michael

    Why is it that the republicans only know how to point fingers stir things up and blame everyone else but themselves? I no longer vote for any republicans, they're the party of NO and BLAME and keep this country from moving foreward.

    April 22, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  8. Juanito

    A 'relay race'? 'Hand off the baton'?

    Taking a look at what she handed off is abysmal. World leaders laugh at this administration and its inability to defend American interests. Putin may have made a mistake with Crimea, but it won't be the US bringing him to account on it. If anything, he was emboldened to do it because we are now the weakest we have been since the Iranian Hostage Crisis under Carter.

    China is watching, salivating to get their paws on territories they claim in their sphere of influence. The White House had to issue a public 'don't even think about it' to Beijing because we know what they know: the world knows Obama is a weak leader, and does not have his nation's support.

    This all makes us yearn for Reagan.

    April 22, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. HillaryisaWasteofO2

    She is a clown. The only thing she did was kill 4 Americans.

    April 22, 2014 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  10. S. B. Stein

    There are some mistakes that were made by Clinton, but there have been others made by other Secretaries of State. Bengazi wasn't totally her fault. If someone had bothered to put down their foot when the ambassador wanted to go there telling him no way, he'd still be alive.

    April 22, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  11. joe

    ..again...which polls..............yea..we know......

    April 22, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  12. LHH

    Secretary Clinton served and worked on Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Soviet Union, and the middle east conflict. I think that every American can look at the results and decide if they want her to become president. These were all disasters. Yes she was under President Obama, but she must have had a lot of input. Either President Obama trusted her judgement or he did not. If President Obama trusted her judgement then she was involved in some terrible decisions for America if he did not trust her judgement, what does that say about Hillary Clinton.

    April 22, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. kurt

    People don't often pay much attention to successes from a secretary of state. Here are some... which I'm sure many will scoff at... but this is what a secretary of state does.

    -Negotiated the signing of Turkish-Armenian accords.
    -Was the key negotiator for non-Libyan elements involved with Libya and worked to keep the rebels unified instead of splintering in their resistance to Gaddafi (could probably use some of that in Syria right now)
    -One of the loudest voices in the debate on going into Pakistan to get Bin Laden (she was in favor of the move, Biden was opposed)
    -Convinced Obama to allow her to make the first state department visit to Burma since 1955 to support political reforms that allowed the pro-democracy party to win elections in a landslide.
    -First US cabinet officially talk about internet issues as a US foreign policy issue (in calling China to task).
    -Restarted the stalled Israeli/Palestine peace process in 2010 by getting direct talks for the first time in two years. While little was accomplished in the talks, just getting the two sides to sit down together was seen as a huge feat given the political climate.
    -Crafted plans to arm Syrian rebels early on during the Syrian civil war with CIA director David Patreus, but it was overruled

    Overall, the biggest thing she accomplished was getting people who had been unhappy with the US in foreign nations to be "less unhappy". US approval was around 33% worldwide in 2007 and 2008. From 2009-2012 it would hover between 40-50%. While the US will never be loved by the world, we became a lot less hated due in part to Clinton's time as secretary of state.

    April 23, 2014 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  14. airjackie

    Well now the Koch bros are going after Hillary's job as Secretary of State. The fact she was cleared by a Republican committee on Benghazi wasn't enough. Then she planed her daughter's pregnancy, planed the tossed shoe and planed her illness. Well now it's time to move on to something new. RNC Chairman said Hillary does not qualify for the office of President because she is a women, to old, a grandmother and doesn't have enough experience. Now it on to all the jobs she has held. At lease the Koch bros. Tea Party aka Republican party are making it clear women belong in the home caring for kids and obeying their husbands.

    April 23, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  15. drew

    Well... She seems to have eaten well... just sayin..

    April 23, 2014 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  16. guest

    . An embassy was destroyed, my question is what was America, specifically representatives of the GOP, were r knowingly hiding in the compound to have dragged out this business for so long. Clearly the loss of American lives is not the main issue here, as the 2000-2008 time period had far greater losses of american lives at foreign embassies. What was stolen that has the GOP so incensed?

    April 23, 2014 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  17. RV

    Successive Indian and US Administrations have indeed tried to foster good Indo-US ties, and one expects this trend to continue. In this regard, Hillary Clinton's constructive role is a significant, though not a solitary effort. In current diplomacy, major and long lasting achievements are achieved through an evolutionary process. This takes time, patience, and endurance. Just as no single individual can rightfully lay sole claim to any significant positive development, so also it would be a unfair to level the blame for unfortunate incidents on the door step of any single individual.

    April 23, 2014 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  18. Marie MD

    Yes, because Americans think they can still control the world.
    Hillary was probably one of the best ambassadors for the US. She also took her defeat like a woman (not a whiny old or rich man or AK screecher) but continued to work to help the US.

    April 23, 2014 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  19. Free Man in the Republic of Texas


    Americans are still dead. The coverup continues....

    NO. Mrs. Clinton we will NOT forget.

    The cover up con

    April 23, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  20. TomInRochNY

    One major accomplishment is that she didn't start yet another war.

    I guess that's why the right hates her so much; they didn't make any war bucks off of her.

    April 23, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    What record? All she did ws give away money to countries that hated us, which we didn't have, to give.......we had to borrow the money.

    Then she failed to provide protection to our "facility" (gun running to Syria), in Benghazi, and got Americans killed. Then she falsely tried to blame a video that had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    Hillary has nothing but black marks on her record in state.

    April 23, 2014 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  22. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Keep trying to drag her down and she'll keep bouncing back. I do believe most Americans are tired of hearing nothing but criticism from the right with no feasible solutions. They remind me so much of the spoiled rich kids I went to school with. Always thinking everything should go their way and if it doesn't cry like little girls.

    April 23, 2014 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  23. Jerry

    Simply put ...the left leaning Democrats have become a haven for anti american, anti white and anti christian sentiment...their progressive agenda is soley intended to bring down the American system and make the fundamental law of the land (the constitution) irrelevant. We must save America "

    April 23, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  24. RV

    In current diplomacy, major and long lasting achievements are achieved through an evolutionary process. This takes time, patience, and endurance. Hillary Clinton has indeed played a significant, though not a solitary role in re-vitalizing and giving new direction to US diplomatic initiatives. However, just as no single person can rightfully lay sole claim to any significant positive development, likewise it is unfair to place the blame for unfortunate incidents on the door step of any particular individual.

    April 23, 2014 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Can anyone name one of Condoleeza Rice's accomplishments? Rice had eight years to come up with something. Every notable deed that I am aware of has little or nothing to do with her day job in the Bush administration.

    April 23, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
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