How does Hillary Clinton make a decision?
July 1st, 2014
03:05 PM ET
7 years 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.

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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. Hillary Clinton -- Butcher of Benghazi

    I think we already know how Hillary Clinton makes decisions....

    A direct report of yours gets killed.
    Decision is, make up a story, push the lie, push the lie, push the lie.
    Deny you knew anything or did anything wrong.
    Create a sham Accountability Review Board of friends, who then fail to interview you and others involved.
    Attend the memorial service and lie to the face of those killed.
    Have video maker arrested to bolster your lies.
    Claim the fog of war even though everybody knew the truth.
    Claim a vast right wing conspiracy.
    Feign indignation at questions.
    Claim you are a leader worthy of being President.

    July 1, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Dr. Brown

    Benghazi, ha I won, fair, I'm not the one pretending to know more than recognized economists, we'll leave that to you sorry to burst, but trickle down economics have been proven to not work as promised but again, what would theh know. I watch certain shows I feel comfortable with, moyers, Charlie rose, BBC, and some credibility to the network news, Robert Reich said a lot about this issue and I quite frankly believe him. There is not one statistical argument that favors trickle down economics.

    July 1, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. More half truths and deception...

    Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    Very disappointed in how Perry has been dealing with Obama's deliberate importation of street kids to America.
    Obama administration is following the law passed by a Republican Congress and signed by GWB, which says that in the case of unaccompanied minors, then they can be allowed to stay with relatives in the U.S. Pres. Obama wants to change that law, but House Republicans refuse to act. They would rather play the part of the ignorant cynic, and criticize the President for following a law that they themselves put into place.
    Actually the TVPRA was updated in 2008 by a DEMOCRAT run congress which expanded the scope and loosened the guidelines for SIJ's. GWB then signed it.

    July 1, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Dr. Brown

    95% of all wealth went to the top 1%, and the other 5% isn't exactly evenly dispursed either. Nothing wrong with that huh? Get a figgin clue already, holy crap! The top 1% controls nearly all our countries money, that should scare you but you think yourself above it, I made close to six figures last year, another three hundred grand and I would have a valid reason to vote gop, but go ahead, tell me how narrow minded, and short sighted I am

    July 1, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    Rudy NY
    We laugh about it now. But, at the rate that we're going, corporations will be voting by 2020.

    so what if they did, it would still be far fewer votes than all the fraudulent votes the democrats generate in every election.
    "far fewer votes"?

    It's a major problem when conservative billionaires talk about how people should be able to purchase additional votes for themselves by creating companies just for the sole purpose of casting additional votes. How much does it cost to incorporate? Not much in most places. How many companies can you start with a mere $10 million? A whole lot of votes, that's how many. It would be a complete disaster for our democracy.

    If incorporating a name cost $500, then with $10 million you could create 20,000 votes for yourself. This is just a one time investment. The $100 million that the Kochs are spending this year alone could be worth 200,000 votes. A billion dollar investment could be worth 2,000,000 votes. And, it is a one time investment, don't forget.

    July 1, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    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?

    Donna. All your anti-Obama rhetoric ... all your anti-Democrat rhetoric? It is wasted on me. Just to be clear, am I disappointed in certain area's of the Obama Administration? Yes. Absolutely.

    Then again, I have found that over time I become disappointed in nearly ALL US Presidents. Some more so than others. I suspect I am not the only one who over time comes to feel disappointment at what could have been done differently. I am also aware of the circumstances surrounding the disappointments; and will when necessary take circumstances into consideration. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. It is the oldest game in the book.

    Touché on your hypocrisy comment. It is especially amusing coming from one who has never shown hypocrisy in their own comments.

    July 1, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. jpmichigan

    As far as running for President the decision has been made, that would be the icing on the cake of all her efforts. The question is will she be her own person, or follow behind Obama, as everyone is saying. She is better qualify to lead and govern, strongly believe that when one is part of another administration, one is subject to the whims and idiot-ology of that President.

    July 1, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. sifto

    Question is..does she make ANY decision that is not political..

    July 1, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Hillary has not demonstrated any responsibility to the people of America....not as a Senator, and especially not as Secretary of State. Failure to be responsible to the PEOPLE, means her chances of winning the primary are low. I do not anticipate her as the nominee.

    July 1, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Vlad Puteen

    Hillary give me a Russian Reset button so I gladly reset to 1950s and takeover Crimea. Hillary make my decision very easy, not hard at all. Obama, my knee slapping buddy, gives me all the flexibility I need. I think he likes me.

    July 1, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. Hector Slagg

    Intelligent Design?

    July 1, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. rob

    This Love fest that CNN is having with Hillary is getting nauseating. "How does Hillary Clinton make a decision" ???

    The "Journalist" Dan Merica writes:

    "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."

    Dan Merica the so called "journalist" might have wondered as I do, how can you take "Responsibility" while at the same time claiming you didn't make security decisions and weren't reading all the "cables from Libya". The next logical question might have been Who in the State Department that you, Mrs. Clinton were running, was making these security decisions and reading the cables????? Who ever these people may be it seems evident that Mrs. Clinton is blaming them!

    Hillary is being allowed to have it both ways here by our SUPINE liberal media.

    July 1, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. 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 |
  14. monkeebizns

    What I gather from the above article and quotes- it seems that the Presidency would be more than she could handle-after all being Secretary of State was hard on her much needed sleep and it appears keeping up with with information concerning just her is "overwhelming in itself" would hate to add the responsibilities and information required of the Presidency to her list.

    July 1, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair posted:

    Careful, Tom. The canned Rudy response of "conservatives don't understand sarcasm" is on the way...
    Does the following sound like sarcasem to you? It's what started the whole thing.

    "Got that lying machine on overdrive this morning! Every person that graduated 7th grade knows it is Congress that determines the spending, not who is in the White House. The facts don't lie, you do, but that is nothing new in here.
    Really? If that's the way you want to call it, then the Tea Party Houses [read Republicans] have been the biggest spending Houses in U.S. history."

    If that doesn't sound like sarcasm to you, then I'd suppose that I'm right. Conservatives really don't understand it well enough to recognize it.

    July 1, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. O'drama ya Mama

    Really? We need to ask politicians how they form thoughts now?

    July 1, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. 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.

    July 1, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

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

    And then in the next paragraph you quote her on the process.

    Sheesh, CNN, stirring the nontroversy pot today, aren't we?

    July 1, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. Smitty

    Hilly doesn't make decisions she just lies and moves on. Hows the reset working?? Poor Hilly broke after the white house,

    July 1, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @Hillary Clinton - Butcher of Benghazi:

    What a dumb screen name! Please do tell us why Sec. Clinton and President Obama would want any Americans killed in Benghazi, when saving all of them would have been so much more to their advantage politically and in all ways?

    Because you do know, don't you, that about 2 dozen Americans DID survive?

    Posts like yours are why I regularly contribute to Democratic candidates and am working to get out the vote on November 4, 2014 – I am so SICK of RWNJs and their nonsense!

    July 1, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |

    Hillary was born down under or Galapagos somewhere like 0bama and not come to America ? Oh i was dreaming darn .

    July 1, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Silence DoGood

    I love how this Benghazi conspiracy grows. Fact free means you can invent a new fantasy every day.
    The reality (occam's razor) – initial assessment was wrong and this was clarified later
    1st version conspiracy – it was mismanaged
    2nd version conspiracy – it was lied about
    3rd version conspiracy – no one cared and they lied
    4th version conspiracy – they actually caused the deaths
    5th version conspiracy – they planned and caused the deaths
    6th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship
    7th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship with space alien help

    July 1, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority

    @More half truths and deception: "Actually the TVPRA was updated in 2008 by a DEMOCRAT run congress which expanded the scope and loosened the guidelines for SIJ's. GWB then signed it."

    No, the TVP was originally passed in October 2000 and reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008. If Bush hadn't agreed with it, he could have vetoed it.

    Another related law, officially known as Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, was first enacted by Congress in 1990. That would be under GHW Bush.

    BTW, learn to punctuate your screen name.

    July 1, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Donna

    Just to be clear, your anti-Obama, anti-Democratic rhetoric is wasted on me. Am I disappointed in certain areas concerning the Obama admininstration? Oh, absolutely. Then again, I suspect I am not the only voter to become dissatisfied from one extent to another as each administration reaches its 6th year.

    Are there decisions made that I don't agree on? Again ... absolutely. Am I going to wast time and effort arguing over it? No. There is no point. Bickering back and forth changes nothing.

    Kudos for your hypocrisy comment. It amuses coming from one such as yourself who has never displayed hypocrisy in past comments.

    July 1, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    Hey. Another vanishing comments resurfaces. Sorry for the double posts.

    July 1, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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