Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton broke her silence Tuesday on scores of questions dogging her campaign, from her State Department email to foreign donations to her family’s charity and the massive wealth she’s amassed.
Mrs. Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account to conduct official business as secretary of state garnered fresh attention this week when the State Department said it likely would not be able to release the 55,000 pages of emails until January.
The candidate balked at the delay, which would make the emails public just before the first nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I have said repeatedly I want those emails out,” she said. “Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do.”
But she contended that it’s out of her hands since she voluntarily turned over the emails to the State Department in December, after her staff deleted those deemed personal and then wiped clean the server.
“They’re not mine. They belong to the State Department,” she said.
After not taking a question from the news media in 28 days, Mrs. Clinton offered herself up to reporters at a campaign event in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Mrs. Clinton addressed the donations by foreign governments and individuals to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state, which presented conflicts of interest and broke an agreement made with the Obama administration when she took the job.
“I think that just goes to show that people are very supportive of the life-saving and life-changing work it’s done here at home and elsewhere, and I’ll let the American people make their own judgment,” said the former first lady, senator and top diplomat.
She also defended the huge speaking fees earned by herself and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, which helped boost their earnings to $30 million last year. The windfall has raised eyebrows as Mrs. Clinton campaigns as a champion of everyday Americans and warrior against income inequality.
“Bill and I have been blessed, and we’re very grateful for the opportunities that we’ve had, but we’ve never forgotten where we came from,” she said.
“We’ve never forgotten the kind of country that we want to see for our granddaughter,” she continued. “I think that most Americans understand that the deck is stacked for those at the top, and I am running a campaign that is very clearly stating, we want to re-shuffle that deck.”
Mrs. Clinton, who remains the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination, took on the hypothetical question of whether, knowing what she knows now, she would still support the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It’s a question that has tripped up a couple Republican presidential contenders, though Mrs. Clinton has previously disavowed her Senate vote to go to war in Iraq.
“I know there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posed to candidates over the last weeks. I’ve been very clear that I made a mistake, plain and simple,” said the former first lady, senator and top diplomat.
She went on to absolve the Obama administration in which she served as secretary of state for the current violence and chaos gripping Iraq.
“What we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation,” said Mrs. Clinton. “The United States is doing what it can, but ultimately, this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government are determined to win for themselves. We can provide support but they’re going to have to do it.”