Hillary Clinton's Diane Sawyer Interview: 3 Moments That Made Us Think She'll Run
She says she hasn’t decided yet, but in Hillary Clinton’s interview with Diane Sawyer on Monday, she sure sounded like a candidate for president. Striking a measured, confident tone, she defended her record as a public servant, projected strength as a leader, and avoided saying anything too controversial. While anything can happen in two years, this interview is probably the strongest sign yet that Clinton will run in 2016. Here are three reasons why.
She Was Respectful Yet Defiant On Benghazi
If Clinton runs, there’s no way the attacks in Benghazi won’t be part of the campaign against her. When the topic came up on Monday, Clinton pointedly avoiding saying anything that could be construed as self-incriminating, and made it clear that the issue is not going to be enough to scare her out of running (as some Republicans might hope).
Sawyer asked Clinton if there was anything she wished she’d done leading up to the attacks. That’s a potential minefield right there; Clinton avoided every mine.
“Well, what I did was give very direct instructions to the people who had the expertise in security,” she said. When Sawyer pushed her on it again, here was her response:
Well, I certainly would give anything on Earth that this had not happened, and I certainly would wish that we had made some of the changes that came to our attention to make as a result of the investigation. But I also am clear in my own mind that we had a system — and that system of course ended with me, but I take responsibility — but I was not making security decisions. I think it would be a mistake for a Secretary of State to sit and say, “Ok, let’s go through all 270 [diplomatic[ posts, and let me decide what should be done.” That, to me, is inappropriate when the security expertise lies elsewhere.
Clinton did a few things there. She expressed sympathy for those who were killed, admitted that the system failed, and accepted a degree of official responsibility for the incident — all while denying any direct or personal responsibility. She even denied any potential responsibility (if she “was not making security decisions,” she couldn’t possibly have made the wrong security decisions). In other words, she gave a response that would be very difficult to use against her in a 2016 campaign.
When Sawyer asked if the politicization of Benghazi would be a reason not to run, Clinton shot back.
“Actually, it’s more of a reason to run, because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball,” she said. “We ought to be in the majors. I view this as really apart from -- even a diversion from -- the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.”
Hammering away at #Benghazi isn’t going to intimidate Clinton from seeking the presidency, and she wants everyone to know it.
She Directly Refuted Health & Age Questions
While it’s downright sleazy to suggest without any evidence, as Karl Rove did, that Clinton has brain damage and is mentally unfit for the presidency, she’ll most certainly face those sorts of attacks if she runs for president. Clinton sought to diffuse that issue Monday night, flatly stating that there’s nothing to worry about.
“It’s very good,” she said when Sawyer asked about her health in the wake of the fall she took last year. “No lingering effects.” When asked if she’d release her health records, Clinton said she “would do what other candidates have done, absolutely.”
Clinton did the same when the question of her age came up.
“My mother lived with us until her death at 92,” Clinton said, “and she was as active and involved and curious and intellectually capable as people much younger than her. So it’s the individual” that matters, not just the age.
She also had a clever but telling joke prepared when Sawyer mentioned that Mitch McConnell had called the 2016 Democratic field “a rerun of the Golden Girls.”
“That was a very popular, long-running TV series,” she said with a grin.
She Said Exactly What She Would Say If She Were Running
There are a number of things a prospective presidential candidate might hope to obtain by formally declaring their candidacy: Media attention, name recognition, a formal campaign apparatus, fundraising dollars and committed political operators, to name a few. But Hillary Clinton already has all of those, so there’s really no reason for her to declare any time soon. She has every incentive to wait as long as possible.
In her interview with Sawyer, she didn’t even commit to deciding before the end of 2014.
“I’m going to decide when it feels right for me to decide,” Clinton said. “I just want to get through this year, help in the midterm elections in the fall, and then take a deep breath, [and] go through my pluses and minuses.”
When asked what reasons she had not to run, she responded in a way that indicated strength, not weakness.
“I really like my life,” she said. “I like what I’m doing. I’m thrilled about becoming a grandmother in the fall, I have lots of hopes for what that means for me and for my family.”
Clinton may not have made her mind up completely on a presidential run. She could pull back at the last minute, or some exogenous event could force her not to run. But by all indicators, the working assumption of most around her is that she’s running. This interview bolstered that view.