August 12th, 2014
04:37 PM ET
7 years ago

'Hugging it out’: Hillary Clinton calls Obama to calm tensions

Updated 12:55 p.m. ET, 8/15/2014

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton reached out to President Barack Obama on Tuesday to tell him that headline-grabbing comments she made about his foreign policy were not meant as a political attack.

The potential presidential candidate called Obama to “make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership," Nick Merrill, a spokesman for the former secretary of state, said.

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In an interview with the Atlantic published Sunday, Clinton dramatically distanced herself from Obama’s approach to foreign policy.

In it, she trashed his self-coined mantra for a cautious foreign policy: "Don't do stupid stuff."

"Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle," Clinton said.

She later labeled Obama's decision not to arm Syrian rebels, something she disagreed with, a "failure."

According to Merrill, though, Clinton "was proud to serve” with Obama.

"While they've had honest differences on some issues, including aspects of the wicked challenge Syria presents, she has explained those differences in her book and at many points since then," Merrill said. "Some are now choosing to hype those differences but they do not eclipse their broad agreement on most issues."

David Axelrod, Obama's former top adviser who now acts as his biggest defender outside the White House, rebuffed Clinton with a tweet that knocked her for her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War.

Clinton said in the interview that “don't do stupid stuff" did not really reflect Obama’s big-picture thinking.

“I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview,” Clinton said. “I’ve sat in too many rooms with the President. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited.”

Clinton’s comments put into sharper focus an effort to put more space between herself and Obama, something she’s been doing slowly in speeches and interviews since releasing her book, “Hard Choices,” in June.

Obama's poll numbers are slipping and Clinton, who is widely considered the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, needs to separate herself from the negative numbers.

After criticism of Obama policy, Hillary Clinton to party with President

In her book, Clinton outlines how she and Obama disagreed on arming Syrian rebels. And during the book’s promotional tour, she has drawn small divisions with him over second-term leadership and partnering with Iran to combat extremism in Iraq.

But the reaction to Clinton's comments, which inflamed the left, show how careful she has to be when trying to separate herself from her fellow Democrat while he’s still in office. It’s a task made even more complex by the fact that she served as America’s top diplomat under him for four years., a liberal advocacy and organizing group, also warned Clinton about taking too hawkish a tone, something it accused her of doing when she ran for president in 2008.

David Axelrod smack-tweets Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s call to Obama came a day before they were expected to attend the same party at the Martha's Vineyard home of Vernon Jordan, a former close adviser and golfing buddy of her husband.

"Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other tomorrow night," Merrill said.

A White House official declined to comment, saying they will leave it to Clinton's aides to handle this for now.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

Related: With vocal support of Israel, Clinton rankles pro-Palestinian Americans

Filed under: 2016 • Foreign Policy • Hillary Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. lamestreamdoc

    This is GREAT!!! I hope it goes on for another year-and-a-half or longer, these two bickering like the true hypocrite-crooks they are.

    August 12, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  2. Mark Henriksen

    Syrian rebels are our enemy. She just doesn't get it. I hope this misguided, underperforming, never did nothing (and I'm a liberal democrat) politician quits.

    August 13, 2014 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  3. J G

    Hillary shouldn't be giving anybody advice on foreign policy. All of this international stuff started happening while she was Sec State. Her weakness is what has led us to the situation we're in now with flareups and wars across the globe.

    August 13, 2014 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  4. NakomaJuste

    She attacked Wladimir Putin and nothing happened to her. She felt emboldened and went against Obama.
    The rest is history.

    August 13, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. Craig

    Geesh – no matter I have to agree with one of two people I never agree with. Axelrod was correct and Clinton is just plainly two faced and disingenuous to even suggest that her comments about stuff didn't have take a shot at Obama written all over it.

    August 13, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  6. sam

    OH MY Hillary is running as a conservative as ALL DEMS DO. Trying to distance your self from the failure Obama. Yes Obama is a disgrace to the black race and a total failure as the dog catcher he is. BUT you are a failure too and deserve nothing. You are filth.

    August 13, 2014 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  7. Thisisnotamonarchy

    317 million people in the u.s. and we can't find anyone better than the Clinton or Bush monarchy?

    August 13, 2014 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  8. jasvirjr

    And you know what I mean. My husband told me to come and meet you you gotta help me in primary as you got nothing ot loose and may be this immigration issue will help us to continue occupy White House.

    August 13, 2014 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  9. Lily

    Hillary has a diplomacy problem. When she starts talking sometimes she doesn't think what to say and what not to. Good leaders are always more careful of what they say about others. The only way to rectify this is to stop going to interviews which so far seem to do her more harm than good.

    August 13, 2014 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  10. marklasvegas

    To Mrs. Clinton, I have never been shot at but I surely would have remember it. I'm sorry that you got confused about whether you were being targeted or that it was just some young girl giving you flowers. I totally understand how you could confuse the two .These Republican domestic terrorists will resort to anything to twist the truth to serve their purposes.

    August 13, 2014 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  11. Thomas

    I'm surprised Bill Clinton didn't call the president for her .

    One of the things I do respect about the Clintons is they only have one child , they are both good parents .

    I just despise politics and what power dose to people . And unfortunately , there is not a candidate , democrat or republican who can lead with greatness in these times.

    August 13, 2014 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  12. adsas

    If Obama was smart, I wouldn't even take her call. Let her stew in her comments for awhile...

    August 13, 2014 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  13. frznagn

    Surely there has to be a better Democrat that can run for office? It would be a sad thing indeed if this was the best they can find.

    August 13, 2014 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  14. James V.

    These Liberals are Dangerous and will do, and say anything to remain in power over us!!! TYRANNY AND LIB LIES MUST BE STOPPED!!!

    August 13, 2014 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  15. Harleigh Kiffer

    Now it is up to the media to make it seem like they are friends again.

    August 13, 2014 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  16. Hillary Inathong

    "Awwww... Come on, Barry. Let's hug it out. I need to get another one if these shiny daggers into your back. A hug will make it easier for me." – Hillary

    Hillary/Corzine 2016: Because if you can scam $ millions from suckers with MF Global, just think what you can do with the WH!

    August 13, 2014 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  17. RomneyWho

    People, we have seen this so many times and we will still go down the rabbit's hole like it's "Ground Hog Day" (The movie) 🙁

    August 13, 2014 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  18. Dean

    Two liars lying to each other.

    August 13, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  19. Nick

    Given how frequently Obama and Clinton lie to the American people, what possible trust could they have in each other? This was absolutely an attempt to distance herself from his foreign policy blunders, this "kiss and make up" nonsense is simply political theater so the media doesn't start talking about a rift in the Democratic party.

    August 13, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  20. Joe Obama

    Let me see, who is hilberry clintoon? Oh, yeah, NOBODY

    August 13, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  21. Zeibodique

    Posters, Thank you for the entertainment. My life doesn't seem so bad after all.

    August 13, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  22. G_Edwards

    "to 'make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership'"...

    ...except it was.


    August 13, 2014 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  23. Tony D

    Let the Democrat food fight and back stabbing begin!!! On the far, far, far left, we have the progressive/socialist/communist commune of the Democrat Party that is now in control. And to the far left, we have the Clintonistas, the closest resemblance to the former Democrat Party, that really doesn't exist any more.

    Gotta go get my popcorn. Round one is already under way as all Democrats running for office distance themselves from the 5.5 year failed President Obama. My, my, my how the Messiah has now transformed into the Pariah!

    August 13, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  24. just saying, a liberal advocacy and organizing group, also warned Clinton about taking too hawkish a tone, something it accused her of doing when she ran for president in 2008.

    well, now we know just how far left the puppet strings of the democrat party run. aren't these looney tunes george soros's little democrat puppet controller? wake up america!!

    August 13, 2014 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  25. Tommy G

    Well, all I can say is if Hillary Clinton disagrees with and attacks Obama then by the standards set by the lefties in here, only one thing can be said. Hillary Clinton is a racist. How could any Democrat vote for this obvious racist? Better crank up old Crazy Joe!

    August 13, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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