Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton walked back her criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy and said that she and the president will “hug it out” this weekend.
In a statement yesterday, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “Earlier today, the Secretary called President Obama to make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies or his leadership. Secretary Clinton has at every step of the way touted the significant achievements of his presidency, which she is honored to have been part of as his secretary of state. 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. Some are now choosing to hype those differences but they do not eclipse their broad agreement on most issues. Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when she they see each other tomorrow night.”
The foreign policy differences between Clinton and Obama have existed since they were in the Senate together. There is a reason why a hawk like John McCain has such admiration and respect for former Sec. Clinton. She has hawkish tendencies herself. This isn’t a big secret, or a surprise to anyone.
On at least three separate occasions during the interview, former Sec. Clinton laid out her own foreign policy vision. It wasn’t an accident that she differed with the president. There are a few reasons why she made those comments to The Atlantic. First, she is trying to stand alone as her own presidential candidate. One of the big criticisms that she will face in 2016 is that a Clinton victory will represent four more years of Obama. Secondly, she has legitimate differences with the president on foreign policy. Anyone who remembers the 2008 campaign can recall that one of the big differences between the two candidates was their views on the Iraq war.
The White House was legitimately unhappy with these comments because they are in the middle of dealing a new crisis in Iraq. In reality, Hillary Clinton wasn’t so much walking it back for the White House. She was really reassuring Democratic voters. Her comments on Sunday caused many Obama supporters to immediately flashback to 2008. Mrs. Clinton has worked hard to reassure Obama Democrats who were skeptical of her. She did a great job as Secretary of State, and Democrats seem unified behind her.
The 2016 election will likely focus on jobs and the economy so this little dust up shouldn’t matter in the long run, but it is a reminder to the Clintons that there are a lot of Democrats who haven’t forgotten about her vote for the Iraq war, so it would be wise to tread carefully when it comes to foreign policy.