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CNN Town Hall - Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices
Aired June 20, 2014 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight: a CNN town hall event.
Hillary Clinton opens up about the hard choices she's made and the big one around the corner.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Making a decision to run for president, which I have made once, is a really hard choice.
ANNOUNCER: As secretary of state, she logged nearly a million miles, stared down foreign leaders...
CLINTON: Russia and China will pay a price.
ANNOUNCER: ... and stood with the president during times of crisis, sharing successes...
CLINTON: Osama bin Laden is dead.
ANNOUNCER: ... and failures.
CLINTON: What happened in Benghazi was a terrible tragedy.
ANNOUNCER: Now one of the most influential women in the world is standing by to answer pointed and personal questions about global threats, America's
challenges, and her next chapter.
CLINTON: I think the most important questions are not, will you run or can you win? I think the important questions are, what's your vision for
America and can you lead us there?
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN town hall exclusive, "Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices."
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, in the Knight Studio at the Newseum, here's Christiane Amanpour.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to a candid conversation with Hillary
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AMANPOUR: You may have seen her do interviews lately, but not like this.
Members of our audience will join me in asking her questions. CNN has invited them from colleges and universities and civic and social groups in
the Washington area. And we have also asked viewers to submit questions through Tumblr.
Nothing is off-limits as we dig deeper into Clinton's book "Hard Choices" and much more.
So, now please welcome the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Hi. Hi. How are you?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AMANPOUR: Thank you. Thank you for doing this.
CLINTON: Thank you. Great to be here. Thank you so...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Oh, thank you all.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: This is a great -- wow.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. What a wonderful welcome.
Thank you for being here.
CLINTON: Well, thank you. And thanks to CNN for doing this.
And I understand it's being broadcast all over the world.
AMANPOUR: It is.
CLINTON: I had a friend from the Middle East saying they were having a watch party...
AMANPOUR: Well, there you go.
CLINTON: ... to see it tonight, at midnight there, by the way.
AMANPOUR: Everybody wants to know what you have to say.
And, obviously, we have to start with the very important breaking news of the day.
AMANPOUR: And that is the capture, the announcement of the capture and the charging and the eventual bringing to justice of one the masterminds of the
gang who killed your friend Chris Stevens and the three other Americans in Benghazi.
First of all, your reaction to that.
CLINTON: Well, I'm very pleased.
This is another indication, as President Obama said in his statement today, that the United States has an unwavering commitment to bring to justice
those who are responsible for attacks on Americans, no matter where they are, no matter how long it takes.
It took, as you know, 10 years to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. It's taken more than two years to bring this perpetrator to justice. But Ahmed
Abu Khalil has been very much -- Khattala -- has very much on the minds of our law enforcement, our military and our intelligence professionals since
that night in September of 2012.
AMANPOUR: And, obviously, you have been asked so many questions about this so many times. But, certainly, some of the family are still very
One of the mothers said that she still feels all this time that she has not had sufficient answers. How do you relate to her as a mother?
CLINTON: Oh, I totally relate to her as a mother or to any of the family members of the four Americans who were killed that night. I can see why
she and others are inconsolable.
There have been, as you know, a number of investigations, including the independent one that the State Department commissioned, as well as many in
Congress. There are answers, not all of them, not enough, frankly. I'm still looking for answers, because it was a confusing and difficult time.
But I would hope that every American would understand, number one, why we were there, because we need to be in dangerous places, and, number two,
that we're doing the best we can to find out what happened. And I hope that fair-minded people will look at that seriously.
AMANPOUR: What specifically do you still not know?
CLINTON: There's a lot we don't know, Christiane, because now that we have Khattala in custody, hopefully, we will learn more, at least from his
The reason it takes long is to put together cases, which is what the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were doing. They have to piece it
together, just as we started piecing it together on the night of the attack.
We want to know who was behind it, what the motivation of the leaders and the attackers happened to be. There are still some unanswered questions.
It was, after all, the fog of war.
But I'm absolutely convinced that the United States and all of our various agencies, with all of our professionals, including the Congress, is, you
know, piecing together the best information we can find.
AMANPOUR: Again, you have been asked so many questions.
I want to ask you a question about Chris Stevens himself, who was clearly thought of by yourself and the State Department as the expert on Libya.
In a previous interview, you said that he was in Benghazi that day of his own choosing.
CLINTON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
AMANPOUR: In retrospect, do you -- knowing what you know now, would you perhaps not have given him such a long leash? Would you might have told
him not to go to Benghazi on that day, of all days?
CLINTON: Well, that's a difficult question, because our ambassadors are the personal representatives of the president of the United States.
We send people who we believe have the understanding of the cultures and the political systems that they are working in. And it's very hard to
I will give you another example. When Robert Ford, then the ambassador to Syria, decided he was going to drive right up to rebel-held areas and to
show American support, there were a lot of people who said, he shouldn't do that.
But he spoke, and he spoke Arabic. He was assigned to Damascus for a reason, because he was so knowledgeable. And he argued very strenuously:
"I want to go. American needs to be present."
Chris Stevens probably knew Libya as well as anyone else currently serving in our diplomatic corps. He spoke the language. And he made decisions
that I believe had to be respected. And, therefore, he was in Benghazi on that fateful night.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you for a yes or no now that you know what you know? And we're field reporters, too, and we go out to very dangerous
But, in retrospect, might you not have held him back on 9/11, of all days?
CLINTON: Well, I think, if any of us had known that there was going to be a wave of attacks -- remember, it started in Cairo that day and swept
across the region -- I think we would have certainly cautioned, and maybe even directed people to just shelter in place, so to speak, and wait to see
what was going to happen.
AMANPOUR: You have been asked every which way about whether this might prevent you from the running for president. But, in one interview, you
said, actually, no. You got quite feisty and you said, no, this might be a reason to run for president.
What did you mean by that?
CLINTON: What I mean, is, I had the great privilege of leading the State Department and the nearly 70,000 people who work there and for USAID across
We send Americans into perilous, dangerous places all the time. And I believe that's the right decision. We have to do it prudently, of course,
but we need to be where things are happening that can affect us, the security of our country, of our friends and our allies and so much else
that we hold dear.
And so, for me, that is part of the DNA of America. And when -- people have every right to second-guess and question, but when they say the United
States shouldn't be in these dangerous places, I just fundamentally disagree. I don't think we should be retreating from the world, and that
would be a position that I would, you know, strongly advocate.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you have said and, as we have seen, it's an incredibly dangerous and scary world right now.
This is a town hall. We're going to go to our first question. And there we have it.
DOROTHEA WOLFSON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Dorothea Wolfson from Johns Hopkins University.
Secretary Clinton, Iraq is in crisis and may fall to the terrorist group ISIS. Do you believe that President Obama was wrong in quitting Iraq, as
he did in 2011? And what should the United States do moving forward?
CLINTON: Great question. And, obviously, it's very much on everyone's minds.
Let me just give a little bit of history, not too much, but context. When -- President Bush decided, before President Obama became president, that we
would leave Iraq in 2011, the United States would end its combat mission, unless the Iraqi government agreed to ask us to stay, under the same
conditions that we have all around the world. It's called a status of forces ingredient.
I was involved in a lot of the efforts to come up with what our offer would be. And we made such an offer to then Prime Minister Maliki. And he would
not accept the status of forces agreement.
Some now say, well, you should have made him or you should have -- but that's not the way it works. You have to -- if you're going to having
American troops in harm's way -- and we knew Iraq would be quite dangerous for a long time, unpredictable, at the very least -- you have to have the
host government, in this case Iraq, say, OK, here's what we want. We're signing this agreement which will protect American soldiers.
We didn't get that done. And I think, in retrospect, that was a mistake by the Iraqi government. And others are looking at that, including in
The second point I would make is, I think it's imperative that the government of Iraq, currently led by Maliki, be much more inclusive, much
more willing to share power, involve all the different segments of Iraq.
And I believe strongly that, if Maliki is not the kind of leader who can do that, then the Iraqi people need to think seriously about the kind of
leader they need to try to unite Iraqis against what is a terrible, imminent threat from these most extreme terrorists.
AMANPOUR: Mrs. Clinton, this is a very, very dire situation.
And this is an al Qaeda offshoot who's got a big amount of land, the biggest it's ever had. And, last week, you were asked about what should
the U.S. response be, and you said, well, right now, we shouldn't be giving the kind of military help or doing the kind of military activities that the
Maliki government wants.
Since you said that, more cities have fallen. These ISIS people are banging on Baghdad's door.
Do you think now -- what do you think now?
Should the United States do military -- go in with Iran?
That's a hard choice...
CLINTON: It's a...
AMANPOUR: But should they do that?
CLINTON: -- it's a very hard choice. And sitting here, I can't answer it, except to tell you this, unless you get conditions met and assurances made
by Maliki -- remember, he purged the military we helped train. He forced out a lot of the commanders who were the most able commanders.
And you cannot run a military action against extremists like this if you don't have the best possible military.
And I think that right now -- I'm not privy to these conversations anymore, but I think I know the players well enough -- there are those hard
negotiations going on. We are certainly not putting any American soldiers at risk. No...
CLINTON: -- boots on the ground...
CLINTON: With respect to air attacks, which have been mentioned, that has to be part of a larger package. And I believe that that is the subject of
intense negotiations with the Iraqi government.
I know that the president ordered additional military personnel to go buttress our embassy, the biggest embassy in the world, in Baghdad, against
these kinds of threats.
And then finally, when it comes to third parties, whether they be Iran or any of the other countries in the region, that has to also be carefully
thought through. And so...
AMANPOUR: So the question is, does Iraq fall or do you go in with Iran...
AMANPOUR: -- for a tactical reason in this case?
CLINTON: I -- I am not prepared to say that we go in with Iran right now, until we have a better idea what we're getting ourselves into. I know that
the commander of the Quds Force is in Baghdad right now, meeting with Maliki and his advisers and supporters. They want to do for Maliki what
they did for Assad, namely, to provide the bulwark of protection.
In the case of Syria, they did it against...
CLINTON: -- what started out as moderate opposition that has now, unfortunately, morphed into many more extremist groups.
What they want to do in Baghdad is basically to envelop Maliki in the Iranian embrace, maybe even use their own troops in Iraq, as they did in
That is a very difficult position to put the United States in.
AMANPOUR: They are, though, against al Qaeda. So let me just...
AMANPOUR: -- walk -- go to the floor, because this is a town hall...
CLINTON: No, of course.
AMANPOUR: -- we're going to get another question.
TATIANA SABAI: Hi, Secretary Clinton.
My name is Tatiana Sabai (ph).
And I'm wondering on the issue of Syria, what you believe the administration can and should do into engage and support what remains of
the moderate opposition and take a more active role in addressing the humanitarian crisis?
CLINTON: Well, thank you for that. And I -- I wrote a whole chapter about Syria in my book, "Hard Choices." And I call it a wicked problem, because
it is. And in the book, I obviously write about what is now publicly known, I recommended that we do more in the very beginning to support the
moderate opposition, because I believed, at the time, that they would be overwhelmed by Assad's military force and that they would open up the door
to extremists coming in.
I worked with General Petraeus then at the CIA, Secretary Panetta, then at DOD. And we made a presentation about how we thought that kind of vetting
and training and equipment -- equipping could go and it would not be a big operation by the United States, but it would show whose side we were on and
it would begin, I hoped, to tip the balance.
That hasn't happened until recently, but now we are involved in doing more on behalf of that. We also worked very hard to get the political
opposition, the moderate political opposition, to be better organized and to try to again present an inclusive front so that they would be a stronger
force to negotiate with Assad.
AMANPOUR: Is this...
AMANPOUR: -- did you say there is arm and train going to happen now?
CLINTON: It's pub -- it's public information that they -- that the United States government, along with allies, are looking at ways to help support
the -- the moderate -- what the moderate opposition is. They are badly outnumber by both the Assad forces and the extremists.
I think now, there are more than 1,000 Europeans who are fighting in Syria...
CLINTON: -- for the extremists...
AMANPOUR: -- and I was going to ask you this, because I -- after all the reporting I've done on this and the blow-back and the back splash and all
of those fears, the police commissioner of New York City summed it up the best recently, in a way that Americans can understand, that this is the
most dramatic threat since 9/11 and perhaps even bigger...
AMANPOUR: -- that there could be an attack on New York and the United States in general...
AMANPOUR: -- and also around many foreign capitals.
You were turned down -- your idea and your plan, with all those national security officials that you mentioned, was turned down.
Do you believe that if it hadn't been, you would have been able to prevent what's happening now, isolate the extremists, as you said was your goal...
AMANPOUR: -- prevent them from going across to creating an al Qaeda state in Iraq...
AMANPOUR: -- 14 years after 9/11?
CLINTON: It's very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this. There were a lot of forces at work, as you well know.
There were many different sources of -- of revenue coming into these disparate extremist elements -- Russia, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah were
supporting Assad. There were already many players in this very dangerous space.
But I did believe then, and I believe now, that it is important for us to know what's happening on the ground in these places. And unless you build
relationships with people who you think are at least hopefully sharing some of your same goals and objectives, you lose -- you lose contact. You don't
know what's happening...
AMANPOUR: And this is (INAUDIBLE)...
CLINTON: -- and that leaves it even more dangerous.
AMANPOUR: -- your own ambassador, the person you appointed, Robert Ford, to Syria, resigned and he told me in his first interview that he did so in
protest and on principle because he could no longer defend the Obama administration's policy.
And we see where we are in the world because of this.
I want to ask you...
CLINTON: But let me just...
AMANPOUR: -- should you have tried harder...
AMANPOUR: -- you were surrounded by the top national security people...
CLINTON: Right. Right.
AMANPOUR: -- on a mission to stop terrorism.
AMANPOUR: Should you have pushed harder?
CLINTON: We pushed very hard. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president. And the
president had very legitimate concerns. And, you know, Robert Ford, as I mentioned earlier, was an exemplary ambassador. He did just an
extraordinary job until we had to pull him out because of the danger.
And I think in some of his interviews even with you, he said the State Department was pushing, pushing...
AMANPOUR: The State Department, correct.
CLINTON: -- pushing...
AMANPOUR: -- but he said nobody else...
CLINTON: That's right.
AMANPOUR: -- was listening. He said the White House wasn't listening.
CLINTON: Well, we -- we did, as I said, create a -- a proposal that both the CIA and the Department of Defense supported.
But I want to hasten to add...
AMANPOUR: Would you do that...
CLINTON: -- the reason...
AMANPOUR: -- would you do it in the future?
CLINTON: Of course. I would always...
AMANPOUR: Go back again?
CLINTON: -- speak out. I would always...
AMANPOUR: No, no, no.
CLINTON: -- speak out...
AMANPOUR: Go back again and, you know, arm and train?
CLINTON: Well, I said we should have done it, you know, two plus years ago. But I want to be very clear, these are difficult, hard choices if it
was so self-evident that everybody should have done this, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about what we didn't do, but we might be talking about
the consequences of what we did do.
So you have people making these choices with imperfect information, trying to figure out what they hope will happen, what might happen, how to guard
against contingencies. So, clearly...
AMANPOUR: To be fair, though -- to be fair, your own husband, President Clinton, said a couple of years ago, the longer you leave it, the more
space for the bad actors. And to be fair, many of your own officials who we've just talked about, plus U.N. officials, have been warning about this
backlash for a long, long time.
CLINTON: Um-hmm. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And most people believed that this is precisely what would happen. If terrorism and stopping terrorism is America's fundamental
national security prerogative...
AMANPOUR: -- was this a failure?
CLINTON: Well, I think it's too soon to tell. But let me just quickly add that originally, this was a rebellion by Syrians themselves. And it was
clearly Assad's goal to turn it into a battle with terrorists. There weren't terrorists initially. And what has happened, partly because of the
brutality of the Assad regime, and also the conflict -- the proxy conflict between Iran and others in the region, you had, unfortunately, money and
equipment going to extremists.
And so this problem was made much worse.
Now, if we had gone in earlier and tried to help the so-called moderates...
CLINTON: -- I'm not sure that it would have turned the tide. But I believed then that it was important for us to make clear that we were going
to try to support them against Assad and also fill the vacuum that would be created in that territory.
AMANPOUR: Which we're witnessing right now.
CLINTON: Well, and we are...
AMANPOUR: I'm going to move forward...
CLINTON: -- we are witnessing right now, yes.
AMANPOUR: -- to another question from the audience.
Sorry to be brutal, but we've got...
CLINTON: No, go ahead.
AMANPOUR: -- to get as many as we can. PROF. FRANCISCO GONZALEZ, SAIS: Thanks very much, Madam Secretary.
A very good afternoon to you.
My name is Francisco Gonzalez.
I'm a professor at SAIS.
CLINTON: Oh, good.
GONZALEZ: -- which is part of Johns Hopkins.
We train many...
CLINTON: I know.
GONZALEZ: -- worthy individuals who worked for you at the State Department.
My question, bringing you back to the home front for a bit, by the time President Obama steps down, around three million individuals will have been
deported under his watch.
Sadly, but unsurprisingly, President Obama has come to be known among the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. as the deporter-in-chief.
Thousands of hard-working families in the U.S. have been split by force as a consequence of this policy.
If you were to reenter politics, what would you do about this?
CLINTON: Well, even if I don't reenter politics, I will continue speaking out for comprehensive immigration reform.
Both because I think the people who are here who are raising families and working hard and contributing to our country deserve a path to citizenship.
I have believed that for many years. I have argued that in many different contexts.
I also think that we have to understand the difficulty that President Obama finds himself in because there are laws that impose certain obligations on
him. And it was my understanding that the numbers have been moderating in part as the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement
officials understood that separating children from families -- I mean, the horror of a father or a mother going to work and being picked up and
immediately whisked away and children coming home from school to an empty house and nobody can say where their mother or father is, that is just not
who we are as Americans.
And so, I do think that while we continue to make the case which you know is very controversial in some corridors, that we have to reform our
immigration system and we needed to do it yesterday. That's why I approved of the bill that was passed in the Senate. We need to show humanity with
respect to people to people who are working, contributing right now. And deporting them, leaving their children alone or deporting an adolescent,
doing anything that is so contrary to our core values, just makes no sense.
So I would be very open to trying to figure out ways to change the law, even if we don't get to comprehensive immigration reform to provide more
leeway and more discretion for the executive branch.
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: And what about right now?
AMANPOUR: Such an important issue. And what about right now? As we're seeing thousands of children come across --
AMANPOUR: -- shantied off into makeshift shelters.
CLINTON: It's horrible.
AMANPOUR: Hard choice -- let them stay in the United States or send them back?
CLINTON: Well, two quick points. One, the numbers are increasing dramatically. And the main reason I believe why that's happening is that
the violence in certain of those Central American countries is increasing dramatically. And there is not sufficient law enforcement or will on the
part of the governments of those countries to try to deal with this exponential increase in violence, drug trafficking, the drug cartels, and
many children are fleeing from that violence.
AMANPOUR: Should they be able to stay here? It's safer.
CLINTON: Well -- it may be safer but that's not the answer. I do not --
AMANPOUR: Should they be sent back?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide. We have children 5 and 6 years old who have come up from
Central America. We need to do more to provide border security in southern Mexico.
AMANPOUR: So, you're saying they should be sent back now?
CLINTON: Well, they should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns
whether all of them should be sent back. But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.
And just as Vice President Biden is arguing today in Central America, we've got to do more. I started this when I was secretary to deal with the
violence in this region to deal with border security.
But we have so to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay. So, we don't want to
send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.
AMANPOUR: We're going to go on to a different topic. And this I'm going to read because it's from Tumblr, who we're partnering with. So, here we
"Just to clarify with Hillary Clinton's anti-marriage equality stance in the 1990s-early 2000s, a reflection of her own views at the time or simply
because she didn't think most American citizens were prepared to accept it? This was brought up on NPR's 'Fresh Air' but Clinton did not give a solid
answer at the time."
So, is it time for radical candor?
CLINTON: Well, I made --
AMANPOUR: You said you liked that statement.
CLINTON: I do. I made a very clear statement when I got out of the State Department. I was free to comment on domestic political issues that I
fully support marriage equality. That like most Americans I know, my views have changed over time. I think evolved is the word that a lot of people
have used. It fits me as well as it fits others.
In large measure, based on the experiences that I had with so many people who I knew and cared about, and it really became very clear to me that if
we're going to support marriage in our country, it should be available to everyone regardless of who they love and that this marriage equality issue
is a great human rights issue.
So, yes, I evolved over time and I'm very, very proud to state that I'm a full supporter of marriage equality right now.
AMANPOUR: We have another Tumblr question. And this is about marijuana. Hillary --
AMANPOUR: -- what are your outlooks --
CLINTON: There are younger people here who can help me understand this and answer it. Go ahead.
AMANPOUR: "What are your outlooks on recreational and medicinal marijuana? And how does it make you feel that states are now legalizing pot for both
CLINTON: Well, at the risk of committing radical candor --
AMANPOUR: That's what we want here.
CLINTON: Yes, well, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don't think we've
done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should
be availability under appropriate circumstances.
But I do think we need more research because we don't know how it interacts with other drugs. There's a lot we don't know. So, on medicinal -- on
On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I
want to wait and see what the evidence is.
AMANPOUR: Do you want to wait and try it? You said you've never smoked.
CLINTON: Absolutely not.
CLINTON: No, that -- I didn't do it when I was young. I'm not going to start now.
AMANPOUR: Let's go to the audience. Another question.
GAIL SANTA MARIA, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: Hi.
SANTA MARIA: My name is Gail Santa Maria. I'm from Maryland. I'm a teacher.
My question is about guns. I'm very concerned about the proliferation of guns in America, especially as it pertains to school shootings.
SANTA MARIA: Do you think that that reinstating the ban on assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines would do any good?
CLINTON: Yes, I do. I do.
SANTA MARIA: Good.
CLINTON: You know, my --
CLINTON: First of all, I think as a teacher or really any parent, what's been happening with these school shootings should cause everybody to just
think hard. We make hard choices and we balance competing values all the time. And I was disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal
background checks after the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook and now we've had more --
SANTA MARIA: Seventy-four more.
CLINTON: -- in the time since.
And I don't think any parent, any person should have to fear about their child going to school or going to college because someone, for whatever
reasons -- psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever it means -- could possibly enter that school property with an automatic weapon
and murder innocent children, students, teachers.
I'm well aware that this is a hot political subject. And again, I will speak out no matter what role I find myself in. But I believe that we need
a more thoughtful conversation. We cannot let a minority of people -- and that's what it is, it is a minority of people -- hold a viewpoint that
terrorizes the majority of people. And I have -- you are about the fifth person in the last weeks, parents and another teacher, just interested
citizens, who have said something similar to me.
So, my view is that yes, we need to thrash this out in the political realm. But the vast majority of Americans, even law abiding gun owners, people --
SANTA MARIA: Who want background checks that work.
CLINTON: -- who want background checks that work, information that is shared immediately, and an awareness that, you know, we're going to have to
do a better job protecting the vast majority of our citizens, including our children, from that very, very, very small group that is unfortunately
prone to violence and now with automatic weapons can wreak so much more violence than they ever could have before.
SANTA MARIA: My question is, why does anyone --
AMANPOUR: You just had a question. Sorry, ma'am.
I got carried away. I'm sorry.
AMANPOUR: No, no, it's a good answer. Many people the want to know this obviously.
Can we go for another question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, my name is Margie Arguelle (ph) from the Johns Hopkins University.
Secretary Clinton, my question is, are there any plans to lobby for the proposed Family Act or to create legislation that would provide paid
maternal leave for women in the workforce?
CLINTON: Well, as you know, we have the Family and Medical Leave Act in our country. It was I think the first bill my husband signed back in 1993.
It's not paid leave, but it saved people's jobs when they had to take time off.
But it didn't cover every business. And so it did have gaps.
And I have been a strong proponent of trying to fill those gaps, giving more people the chance to do what is most important in life. And that is
to balance work and family, and to take care of your family obligations, whether it's a newborn child, a sick child, an aging relative or any other
Some local communities are passing paid leave provisions. New York just did so. And I support trying to figure out how we're going to do more to
give families that peace of mind and the -- the guarantee they're not going to either lose their job or their income, while they try to fulfill the
most human of responsibilities.
So, we need to look to see how we make that work, what the conditions would be, but it's unfinished business, in my view.
AMANPOUR: So, should paid maternity leave for companies be mandated by law?
You know it is in many parts of the world.
CLINTON: It is.
AMANPOUR: Many parts of the developed world.
AMANPOUR: Not here.
AMANPOUR: Should it be?
CLINTON: I think, eventually, it should be, but, right now, we're seeing some -- some very good proposals being implemented in other parts of the
country, so that we have answers.
You know, it's like the debate over the minimum wage.
AMANPOUR: Why do you...
AMANPOUR: ... not now?
CLINTON: Well, because I don't think, politically, we could get it now.
So, I think what we're doing is what we have done in various parts of our history in the past. States try things out. And then we check to see how
it's working, and then we try to take it to the national level.
And, you know, the Massachusetts health care reform, that was an example that was then adopted for the Affordable Care Act. So, I think, with paid
leave, we ought to encourage states and localities that have the political will to do this to begin to implement it, and then we ought to try to see
how we can expand it.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, we have lots more questions for you.
We are going to keep asking about the hard choices that Secretary Clinton made when she was in office and those that she may face if she, in fact,
runs for president. We will also touch on one of her other roles, as a soon-to-be grandmother.
AMANPOUR: We will be right back.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
AMANPOUR: And we are back now with the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. She's talking about her new book, "Hard Choices," and more.
So, welcome back. Welcome back, everybody.
And we're going to go straight to our next question.
KRISSTARAH GONZALEZ, BUSINESS STUDENT, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi. My name is Krisstarah Gonzalez. I'm a student at G.W. from Massachusetts.
My question is, if you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
CLINTON: Oh, my gosh.
CLINTON: Oh, wow.
Well, it would depend upon the mood I was in.
CLINTON: You know, some days, it's a little less favorable than other days.
CLINTON: You know, I have described myself in the past as intense, as, you know, passionate, as service-minded, because that's how I have tried to
live my life.
And, you know, sometimes, just like every other human being, I'm disappointed in what I did or didn't do, or whether it was the -- meeting
my expectations and all of that. And then I have other less happy words to describe myself.
But one point I want to make really quickly, and that is -- and I say this to young women and young men, but I'm primarily asked by young women -- is,
if you're going to go into the public arena, how do you think about yourself and how do you behave? And, there, I think it's very important
for you to take criticism seriously, but not personally.
And don't let yourself get pulled down by other people's opinions, because I think what you think about yourself, what you say to others about
yourself really does affect how you present yourself and eventually who you are.
So, I do try to stay positive about other people and myself. And when I find myself kind of getting into a "uh" mood, I think about my blessings.
And I try to practice what is called the discipline of gratitude. So, I'm grateful. That's probably the number one word I would use.
AMANPOUR: A lot to be grateful for, but how do you rate yourself on the taking-criticism barometer?
CLINTON: I have gotten better.
CLINTON: I have had to really learn.
AMANPOUR: Had to get better?
CLINTON: I had to get better.
But I also wanted to get better. I think when I -- you know, I was leading this perfectly kind of, you know, ordinary life, until my husband got into
politics. And then, all of a sudden, it was like a tsunami, you know, people writing and saying and all kinds of critiques.
I remember once walking down the center aisle of a -- an event I was attending, and, on the right, literally, I could hear out of my right ear,
"Oh, I love what she's wearing," and then, like a few steps later, on my left, "I hate that outfit."
CLINTON: You know, so, I mean, I -- I am like every other human being. I am susceptible to being criticized.
But what I have really tried to do...
AMANPOUR: And flattered?
CLINTON: I can be flattered. I wish it happened more often.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me tell you, you're also competitive. That's another...
CLINTON: Of course, yes.
AMANPOUR: ... another -- yes. You see how you sat up.
CLINTON: Of course. I am.
AMANPOUR: You are competitive.
CLINTON: But I...
AMANPOUR: So -- hang on.
CLINTON: I try to be competitive about things that matter.
AMANPOUR: Well, things that matter such as, are your competitive juices flowing for the chance to be the first...
AMANPOUR: ... female president of the United States of America?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I -- you can see why she's an experienced journalist.
CLINTON: I have been asked this a million different ways. That was very clever. I mean, I didn't really see that coming.
AMANPOUR: Radical candor.
CLINTON: Radical candor, yes.
CLINTON: You know, I am thinking about all of the choices I face.
And I'm trying not to get into the decision-making mode, where I'm going pluses and minus and the rest. I will make a decision, but I'm really most
moved by what I think we need to do in the country.
And, as I said in my book, you know, really, you have got to ask people who want to run for anything, but particularly president, what's your vision?
What is your vision for our country? And do you think you can lead us there?
Because those are two different questions. I mean, some people can paint a beautiful vision. And, thankfully, we can all learn from that, but then,
can you, with the tenacity, the persistence, the getting-knocked- down/getting-back-up resilience, can you lead us there?
And, you know, I was with my husband for eight years. I saw how difficult that was. I have served President Obama for four years. He became a good
friend of mine. And I see how difficult that is, because people who don't agree with you try to tear you down, because there's a lot at stake. It
really matters what is going to happen, whether it's immigration or guns or income inequality or anything else.
So I -- I'm going to think about all that, but not right now. Right now, you know, I want to talk about the choices that I saw and some that I made
and the choices facing the country.
AMANPOUR: You, in 2008, were less personal when you ran.
AMANPOUR: I wonder whether you were consciously less personal.
Did you resist being personal because you're a woman and you thought about being a woman and how should a woman be?
CLINTON: I think that's a very perceptive comment. You know, I'm very proud of the support that I had when I ran. And President Obama and I ran
a really hard campaign until the very end. And surprisingly, he asked me to serve as his secretary of State, which I thought was a great message
about how you should keep working together regardless of politics.
I think it was difficult to really gauge how I was presenting myself and being perceived. So I do believe that was an issue.
I mean I -- I would be worrying about, well, you know, what are people going to say and -- and, you know, what do they mean and all the rest of
that. And I think I'm beyond that. I can't say I'm -- I'm never going to feel that.
But I do believe that a woman in any high public position -- whether it be journalism, politics, business, whatever -- is always constantly being
judged. And you then can fall into what is a kind of bad habit of constantly editing yourself, instead of thinking about what you're trying
to say, what you're trying to do, you know, you do worry about all of that personal prob -- you know, all the personal stuff that goes with hair and
makeup and clothes and -- you know all the drill.
And, you know, I used to complain to my -- to the -- to the men I was running against. We would be meeting before debates and I'd say, you know,
it's really unfair, you guys get up, you take a shower, you shake your head and you're ready.
AMANPOUR: Why don't we just do that?
CLINTON: Well, I tried that, too, as you might have noticed.
CLINTON: Yes, indeed. Well, that -- that was like that great moment when Jill Dougherty, also on CNN at the time, you know, said, oh, you're going
And I said...
CLINTON: -- well, you know...
CLINTON: -- kind of -- yes, exactly.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So but you write in your book something pretty funny. You talk about going to see Putin on something. Anyway, he takes you into this
office and he then asks if Bill Clinton would like to go tagging polar bears in the arctic.
AMANPOUR: Really macho, right?
CLINTON: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And you say, well, I'll see about his schedule, but otherwise, I'll go.
CLINTON: I did.
AMANPOUR: Yes, but the funny is that he gave you a funny look.
AMANPOUR: As if this woman...
CLINTON: Yes. Yes...
CLINTON: -- well, he and I have...
CLINTON: -- a -- a long distance verbal volleying relationship...
CLINTON: -- you know, most recently, the volley came from him and I've been trying to return it to him.
AMANPOUR: That was over Ukraine?
CLINTON: It was over -- well, it was over Ukraine. And I have criticized him for the invasion and annexation of Crimea and the continuing
destabilization of Eastern Ukraine, which I think is very dangerous and -- and just plain wrong in -- in 2014, for European countries to be doing
that. And also that I believe Russia has missed a great opportunity to really modernize its economy, not be dependent upon oil and gas, open it up
more so it's not just, you know, in the possession of some of the oligarchs and -- and cronies of Putin's and not -- and so much else.
Yes, so he -- he and I go back and forth.
But that was a moment when I was able to make a connection with him. And that's why I write about it, because he always comes with an agenda. And
if you ever see him on TV or in pictures, you know, he sits, you know, very kind of in a -- in a -- in a very aggressive way and just listens and sort
of stares at you. And he never really agrees or has anything like a back and forth conversation. It's very dismissive.
So this had been going on with me in one of my meetings with him. But I knew that he cared about something I care about, which is wildlife
conservation, particularly of endangered species.
So I -- I -- out of the blue, we were talking about something that he was not happy to be talking about. And I finally said, well, you know,
President Putin, I understand that you are trying to save the tigers and the polar bears and other endangered species.
And he came awake. He sat up. He said come with me. He marched me out of the room. We went down the stairs, down the long hall into an office that
surprised all of his security people, who jumped up, into an inner sanctum, just he and I. And we went way back to this room where he had this
enormous map of Russia. And he said, let me show you where those endangered species are. And he was telling me about the tigers in Siberia
and the polar bears and all that.
And then he said, I'm going to go up and tag them and -- and do you think your husband, Bill Clinton, would like to come?
And I said, well, I don't know, I'll ask him, but he's pretty busy. But, you know, I'll come if -- if he can't.
The -- it was not reciprocated.
AMANPOUR: Yes, but that's my point. If you were president and a woman, it would be weird to deal with him, do you think?
CLINTON: No, because I think you have to deal with him with a combination of patience and persistence and strength. And therefore, it's -- changeup
is not all bad, trying to figure out how you can find any common ground. I mean we have to stand our ground against him and his recent behavior. But
we also need to keep trying to find common ground.
AMANPOUR: We have a word cloud. This is, you know, part of our Tumblr. And word clouds are really cool. And they show what people are thinking.
And there is very, very large writing that says, "president" and...
AMANPOUR: -- quite large writing that says, "America woman" and "Clinton."
AMANPOUR: This is what a lot of people are thinking. And I actually want to bring this up, because I want to know whether you are evolving your
decision as you talk and have so many interviews, because there was the thing you said to Diane Sawyer about Benghazi, which we talked about...
AMANPOUR: This would make me more ready to run for president.
And yesterday, to a Canadian broadcaster, you basically sounded like you were getting a lot closer. You said, "We have, us Democrats, a good bench,
so to speak. But they haven't gone through the fire. Part of the reason why there's a big drumbeat for me is because I've done it."
AMANPOUR: Are you getting closer?
CLINTON: But I -- but I try to answer the questions in real time. So when I'm asked, are there other women who could run and be president, I say yes,
of course there are. And I'm very proud of that.
But there's a -- a great deal of interest in encouraging me to do so. And I do think part of it is I've gone through it. And it's a very difficult
process. I mean let's just -- as I write in my book, when I ended my campaign and -- and then Senator Obama and I began to talk about how I
would support him and Bill would support him and what would do to make sure he was elected, we were both exhausted. I write about this private meeting
we had where we both snuck out to have it so nobody like her would know that we were -- we were meeting so we could really clear the air and start
And we sat across from each other like two awkward teenagers on a date. And it took a while to break the ice, even though I'd known him and I'd --
I'd supported him when he ran for the Senate, of course.
So we began to develop this relationship. But one of the common grounds of that relationship was our common experience running for president. And, in
fact, when President Obama asked me to be secretary of State, he said, look, I know that I have to deal with the economic crisis. I don't have
any choice. This is the most pressing crisis facing our country.
But we have a lot of problems around the world. You can get out there and hit the ground running and begin to deal with that.
So that experience shapes you. It, for better or for worse, I suppose, it does give you a sense of your stamina, your resilience, your flexibility.
And the president and I really respected that in each other.
AMANPOUR: Let me go to the audience again for another question.
CHASE SUDDETH: Hi, Secretary Clinton.
I'm Chase Suddeth (ph) from Luray, Virginia.
I just wanted to know that my generation is very dissatisfied with the partisanship in Washington and across the country.
SUDDETH: What steps should be taken to improve bipartisanship and also where do you see the relationship between the Senate, the House and the
executive branch in the next decade or so?
CLINTON: Great and complicated question.
And let me just briefly say, because I -- this is something I could talk about for a long time.
I think, first of all, there are two parties -- or two groups that have to do more to achieve what you're talking about. One are the elected
officials and all the political operatives who support them, work for them, encourage them. And the other are all the rest of Americans who feel the
way you do, that we need to figure out how we're going to work together. I mean we remain this exceptional, indispensable nation. I saw that when I
traveled the world.
And yet, we're appearing too often like we can't ever get together and solve our problems and make a difference.
So citizens have to demand that and not get turned off by it. I want to stress that, particularly for young people. You know, you look at it and
you say, I don't want any part of that, I don't even want to vote.
Why encourage these people?
That's exactly the wrong response, because then that leaves the ground for politics to the people who have really strong opinions that you may not
So, please, become, if not remain, involved in politics. And then secondly, on the leaders themselves, I think we have to do more to build
some relationships. And I -- I say that -- and it should be obvious, people work together, they're in the House, they're in the Senate.
But I was a senator for eight years. And you get caught up in representing your state. You work with your peers, but you don't go to dinner with them
all the time the way it used to happen between Republicans and Democrats. So, we have to do more.
And we saw a good example of that when my friend Patty Murray, senator from Washington, chair of the Budget Committee in the Senate, worked out a deal
with Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, chair of the budget committee in the House.
And how did they do it? They didn't do it by storming each other's offices with aides who are saying my way or no way. They did it by sitting down,
having a meal, getting to know each other, listening to each other.
It sounds so simple but it's what I also tried to do as secretary of state. You cannot ask people to make hard choices if they don't really know you
and you haven't developed a level of trust and understanding even though you may disagree because that's the only way you can chisel away at the
disagreement to reach some kind of agreement and that's what both the senator and the and congressman did, and we need much, much more of that.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Now, can I ask you a follow up?
Senator Jay Rockefeller said recently and he suggested basically that some of the political opposition to President Obama could have something to do
with the cooler of his skin. Do you agree with that? What do you think about that?
CLINTON: Well, I can't read the mind of all of the opposition. But some of it is virulent, and really, in my view, you know, quite detached from
the job that not only this president is doing but any president has to do. It's a really hard job. And you're not going to agree -- I don't care who
you are -- with everything any president does.
And there are many reasons why people are opposed to political figures. I felt when I ran in '08 that there were people who were opposed to me
because I was a woman. So, you have to really try to keep getting up everyday and doing the best you can. That's what President Obama has done.
And he is trying -- like the capture today, you know, that was months in the making. And he had to make the decision, once again, to send Americans
into harm's way to try to detain the leader of the attack against Benghazi. You know, he has to shut out a lot of the other stuff that's going on to
have the concentration to be able to make those hard choices.
So, if someone wants to dislike the president, remember, 60 percent is a landslide. If you get that kind of vote. That means 40 percent, four out
of 10 people don't like you. And you have to know that, because even if you get to 60 percent, which is hard to do, you're operating on a margin
where four out of 10 are never going to be happy or satisfied --
AMANPOUR: Do you think some of that is latent racism, vestiges of racism, as some people have said?
CLINTON: Well, I know that -- I don't want to -- I don't want to say that I verify that, because that would be generalizing too broadly. I believe
that there are people who have trouble with ethnicity, with race, with gender, with sexual orientation, you name it. And therefore, they are not
developing a reasoned opinion -- even if it's an opinion in opposition, but they are a reacting o not a visceral stereotypical basis. And that's
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you? You brought up the capture in Benghazi, I want to ask you about Afghanistan, related to Iraq. You must be pretty worried
AMANPOUR: And, really, my question is, how do you think a politically -- political timetable for a withdrawal from Afghanistan is going to work out
any better than it has in Iraq? A lot of people are incredibly worried.
CLINTON: And I spend a lot of time writing about Afghanistan in my book, because I was deeply involved in a lot of the most difficult decisions. I
think what the president has directed, that we will keep a follow-on force thereafter our combat mission ends, because remember --
AMANPOUR: But only until 2016.
CLINTON: Well, let's --
AMANPOUR: You think you can go on longer?
CLINTON: I think knowing -- knowing the president and knowing how he carefully analyzes situations, depending upon who is elected president of
Afghanistan, depending upon the bilateral security agreement -- remember I talk about the lack of one in Iraq --
AMANPOUR: But they've said they will sign it. Both candidates said they will sign it.
CLINTON: They will and --
AMANPOUR: Do you think it is vital in view of what's happened in Iraq?
CLINTON: Absolutely, it's vital. It's vital that they, number one, sign it.
AMANPOUR: The American forces stay?
CLINTON: Well, it's vital that they sign it. It's vital that they continue to unify the country and to increase the capacity of the Afghan
So, I would only say this -- if in 2016, you have a president and a government in Afghanistan that appears to be doing everything it can to
maintain security and provide services to its people and they were to come, not only the United States, but remember NATO has an enduring presence, and
they were to say, "We hope you will continue to help us in this way," that kind of thoughtful conversation will not be rejected, in my opinion.
AMANPOUR: We are going to go to a completely different question, maybe, maybe not. It's a Tumbler question, and it's from Savannah.
"Do you and Bill have differing opinions when it comes to any political matter, and if so, which ones?"
CLINTON: Well, I practiced law for a long time and there is such a thing called marital privilege --
CLINTON: -- where you do not testify against your spouse.
CLINTON: You know, Bill and I --
AMANPOUR: You disagreed with him on Edward Snowden recently. You said it.
CLINTON: I did.
AMANPOUR: He said that he was an imperfect messenger for important ideas, and you said, "I disagreed with him."
CLINTON: Yes, I did. And we -- you know, we have this discussion at home. We are constantly sharing ideas and perceptions. We have, I think, an
agreeable general kind of view about our country and the work that we think needs to happen in order to keep the American dream alive and give
particularly young people a chance to have the same opportunities we had.
But we don't agree in lock step. We have a lot of differences. And I think that it kind of keeps the conversation going. We never run out of
issues to talk about.
AMANPOUR: Well, and there are plenty of them.
So, lightning round, hard choices.
AMANPOUR: A lot of people -- and we have been following this for a long time. This appalling situation of sexual assault against women in the
United States military, and some men, both terrible. And as you know very well, fellow senators or your former colleagues trying very, very hard to
get a fair justice for these women complainants --
AMANPOUR: -- victims of this sexual assault, people who have gone out to fight our battles.
So, do you believe -- hard choice, would you take this out of the chain of command?
CLINTON: Well, I supported my friend Kirsten Gillibrand. And she wanted to take it out of the chain of command. And remember, it's not only women,
it's men that are assaulted as well.
AMANPOUR: But mostly women.
CLINTON: Mostly women, that's right.
And she was -- she was a fierce advocate for it. It was not successful this time around. Another approach was taken. But I think everybody on
both sides of the aisle knows, if there is not evidence that this other approach is working, then we should go back to Kirsten's proposal.
AMANPOUR: Take it out of the chain of command.
CLINTON: Take it out, that's right.
AMANPOUR: I don't know if I'm at the end of my time or not, but I'm going -- well, keep going. All right.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned in answer to the question about partisanship, and gridlock, how everybody should vote and get involved because that would
deny the extremes the voice. So, there is mandatory voting in Australia.
AMANPOUR: The former Prime Minister Julia Gillard told me all about it. And that is why the extremes don't have the agenda and can't control the
debate. Should there be mandatory voting in the United States of America?
CLINTON: No. But there should be automatic registration. I think when a young person --
CLINTON: When a young person turns 18, that young person should be registered to vote.
And I deplore the efforts by some to restrict the right to vote, making it more difficult --
AMANPOUR: Do you think there should be mandatory military or national service? And I bring that up in the post-9/11 world where 1 percent of the
country sacrificed for the rest of the country.
CLINTON: Right, right.
AMANPOUR: And many people have talked about a mandatory, some kind of service, in these kinds of situations.
CLINTON: You know, at this time, I don't support a return to the draft. Which is what would be required for military service. From everything that
I know and have been told, the all-volunteer military works very well.
But it does isolate those, as you're saying, who fight our battles, a very small percentage of Americans are wearing the uniform and out there on the
front lines. So, I do think that we should do much more than we are to expand the opportunity for national service. And to figure out a way so
that young people from all walks of life, not just the privileged, can afford to have that national service.
It is a great opportunity to break down barriers. You know, one of my big concerns about our country right now is that everybody is just talking to
people who are like them. There's a great book called "The Big Sort". We have sorted ourselves into communities where we live with people who think
like us, we go to school with people who think like us, on and on.
And one of the great opportunities that the military used to provide was mixing up men -- you know, it wasn't women so much in those days -- but
people from all over, all walks of life, every kind of American. We've lost that and I think it's one of the reasons why we have such really
disagreeable politics, because people can't put themselves in the shoes of someone else.
So, I would like to see much broad -- more broadly available service and some way to make sure that all young people are not shut out because they
can't afford to take the time to do that.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, we go to our last Tumblr question from Will Jackson. "Why run?" he says. "Why would you run for such a dangerous and
very stressful job when you have a precious grandbaby on the way? Retire! Relax! Enjoy life!"
CLINTON: Well, that's on the ledger.
CLINTON: And actually, I've said this a few times earlier in interviews. I'm not making a decision in part because I do have this very exciting,
life-changing experience coming up in the fall. I want -- I don't want to be looking past it, you know? I don't want to be meeting my new grandchild
and having somebody calling me and saying, oh, you got to do this, that and the other, in order to make this decision. I'm just not going to do that.
So, I will make this decision based on how I feel about it and what I believe I can do. But I'm not going to be rushed to do it, because this --
AMANPOUR: Really? Can it (ph) not rush you?
CLINTON: No. This --
AMANPOUR: Hard choice?
CLINTON: It is a hard choice.
AMANPOUR: The ultimate hard choice? Grandmother or the possibility of being the first female president of the United States of America?
CLINTON: Well, let -- you know, there have been a lot --
AMANPOUR: Hard choice.
CLINTON: There have been a lot of grandfathers who have done it.
CLINTON: Yes, exactly.
AMANPOUR: So, maybe it's not choice, maybe it's not a hard choice.
CLINTON: It's a personal hard choice.
AMANPOUR: All right. On that note --
CLINTON: Oh, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you very much.
CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
AMANPOUR: So, I do want to thank Secretary Clinton for sharing her time and her thoughts with us. You can read more about her experiences as we've
been talking. Her book, "Hard Choices."
Thank you also to our audience and to our viewers here and around the world for joining us and for everyone at CNN. Good night.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)