June 24th, 2014
04:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Hillary Clinton on wealth missteps: 'My record speaks for itself'

Updated 2:35 p.m. ET, 6/25/14

(CNN) – A day after former President Bill Clinton defended his wife against wealth attacks, Hillary Clinton said in an interview what while she is appreciative for the defense, she thinks her record "speak for itself."

"My husband was very sweet today," Clinton said in an interview with PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill that was taped on Tuesday night. "But I don’t need anybody to defend my record, I think my record speaks for itself."

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Clinton later added, "Bill and I have had terrific opportunities. Both of us have worked hard but we have been grateful for everything that we have been able to achieve and sadly that is just not true for most Americans today."

Instead of expanding upon her wealth comments, Clinton then turned to the state of the economy.

"So many Americans are feeling shut out, shut down. The great recession hasn't ended for too many Americans. Wages are flat, families are struggling, not enough new jobs or new business are being created. And it is important that we all try to figure out what we are going to do and that is what I have done my entire life," Clinton said.

Bill Clinton rated his wife's much-talked about "dead broke" comment from earlier this month as "factually true," in an interview with NBC's David Gregory on Tuesday, and defended his wife as someone who isn't "out of touch."

The former president also pushed back against calls that his wife doesn't understand the average American, noting that she has worked "all her life" on "things that were good for ordinary people."

At the start of her book tour, Hillary Clinton told ABC News that her family was "dead broke" when they left the White House in 2001. Clinton added later that her family had "no money" at that time and "struggled to piece together the resources" for mortgages and her daughter Chelsea's college education.

Though the statement is correct – the Clintons did leave the White House with considerable debt – the former first lady left out the fact that the couple had a sizable government pension, two large book advances in the works and the prospect of making millions on the speaking circuit.

Although Hillary Clinton quickly looked to clean up her first slip-up on wealth a few days later in Chicago, the former secretary of state stepped in it again a week later during interview with The Guardian.

Contrasting herself to other "truly" wealthy individuals, Clinton said, "We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work."

Clinton's full comments to the question about income inequality were not included in the story, though.

A source backing Clinton provided CNN on Wednesday with her full answer to the question, which included more about the former secretary of state feeling "blessed" for the "kinds of opportunities" her family has "worked really hard for."

"All one has to do is look at my record going back to my time in college and law school to know not only where my heart is, but where my efforts have been," Clinton said, according to the transcript provided by the source.

"I want to create a level playing field so that once again, you can look a child in the eye and you can tell them the truth, whether they’re born in a wealthy suburb or an inner city or a poor country community; you can point out the realistic possibility that they will have a better life."

She later added, "I’m willing to have that debate [over income inequality] with anybody."

Clinton aides lament the fact that The Guardian did not include the full answer in their article that posted on Saturday, according to the source.

Hillary Clinton admitted the comments were "unartful" during the PBS interview. "I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said," she told Ifill.

But in the interview that will air on Wednesday, the former first lady added that the missteps don't "change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today."

A text preview of the Clinton interview was posted online on Wednesday morning as part of the PBS NewsHour Morning Line.

Although the couple had large legal bills from their last few years in the White House, Bill Clinton has brought in over $100 million on the paid speaking tour since leaving the presidency and Hillary Clinton has brought in upwards of $200,000 per speech since leaving the State Department in 2013.

"It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt," Clinton said with a smiling Hillary and Chelsea Clinton watching on. "Everyone now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic. I am shocked that it happened. I am shocked that people still want me to come give talks. I am grateful."

The former president said that despite their wealth, which he is "grateful for," the Clintons still "go to our local grocery store on the weekend" and "talk to people in our town."

"We know what's going on," he said.

On Tuesday, Bill Clinton admitted that Hillary Clinton's response to the wealth question was "not the most adept answer to a question," but said context was needed to understand Clinton's views on income and wealth.

"What I'm saying is the debate's the wrong debate," he said. "You need to be able to show, by their policies and their statements about current conditions, how candidates of both parties across the spectrum feel about the central challenge of our time, which is the demise of the American dream."

Bill Clinton on Hillary's 2016 decision: 'I’m a bit player'

Republicans and even some Democrats have faulted Clinton, who is admittedly considering a run at the presidency in 2016, for the wealth missteps. Republicans have said that they comments show Clinton is out-of-touch with average Americans, while Democrats have begun to grimace at the growing narrative.

Biden touts modest finances as Clinton wealth controversy swirls

And though the former presidential candidate told PBS that she is still thinking about another run at the job, she admitted that, "You have to be a little bit crazy to run for president."





Filed under: 2016 • Bill Clinton • Colorado • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. barky

    Sick people.

    June 25, 2014 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. CryBabies

    Tampa Tim...Ever think about throwing out rational unbiased thought at least once in awhile....Please???

    June 25, 2014 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  3. anthony78

    Hey Righties and TP'ers... name ONE candidate from your party that would make a better President then Hillary. And please provide actual reasons why.

    June 25, 2014 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  4. BD70

    This is going from bad to worse. Hillary needs Bill to clean up the controversy? Come on....if she did become president would Bill have to step up and re-explain what Hillary meant on any given issue?

    June 25, 2014 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  5. BoFo

    Bill, do us a big favor. Shut up.

    June 25, 2014 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  6. Beth

    You are BOTH out of touch. Furthermore, how would Bill know. They haven't lived together since they left the White House.

    June 25, 2014 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  7. Cog

    Remember she defended Bill....tried to tell the nation his sexaual addiction was a conservative plot.
    Simple dems believed that also.

    June 25, 2014 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  8. Ken

    If she isn't then you are Bill! Two houses, two federal government pensions I might add, one state pension, book advances, social security?, etc. etc. Oh, I feel sorry for the two of you. Millions of Americans would love to be in your position.

    June 25, 2014 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  9. Nick

    Sure, Bill, and you're not out of touch either. When was the last time either one of you had to shop for groceries, put checks to pay your bills in the mail, pumped your own gas, or even opened your own doors? You're life-long politicians, and worse, life-long progressives, the very thing this country doesn't need.

    June 25, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  10. Gabbo

    Bill Clinton dispensing the TRUTH ?? Is this some kind of joke by CNN ??

    June 25, 2014 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  11. cmml

    Does anyone believe Hillary is in touch with average Americans? Does she grocery shop? Does she do her own laundry? What about paying the bills? Do you think she sits at the dining room table writing checks?

    This woman is as out of touch as Romney.

    June 25, 2014 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  12. Logictox

    Just like the child predator Bill, Hillary is also out of touch..............................

    June 25, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  13. scott

    Of course she is out of touch with the average person. People get serious here. The Clinton's have millions and they own 2 mansions in the Hamptons a penthouse in Manhattan they hve made millions again on the books, the speeches etc....They had $$ in the White House and they left with $$. So she has legal bills; pay them! I find it amusing that people are whining about poor Hillary.She has not one clue what it is like to be on a budget to work your ass off to pay the taxes, to pay bills & hope & pray to God that nothing comes up to take what little you have been able to save. They are totally out of touch with the little man. No one is buying CNN.

    June 25, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  14. Blunt Talk

    They (federal politicians) are all out of touch regardless of party. They are surrounded by wealthy, paid lobbyists, exempt themselves from laws they pass, and make millions despite their 'salaries.' No more elected royalty. You have to ask yourself, why do multi-millionaires want to run the country?

    June 25, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
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