WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton writes in her new book that she wishes she could have made different, unspecified decisions as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state but remains proud of her accomplishments as the nation’s top diplomat, according to excerpts released Tuesday.
The potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate writes in an author’s note from her upcoming book, “Hard Choices,” that her time at the State Department taught her about the nation’s “exceptional strengths and what it will take for us to compete and thrive at home and abroad.”
“As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices. But I’m proud of what we accomplished,” Clinton writes. “This century began traumatically for our country, with the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the long wars that followed, and the Great Recession. We needed to do better, and I believe we did.”
Clinton’s memoir will be released June 10 by publisher Simon & Schuster and has generated a debate on her record at Foggy Bottom. Clinton is expected to announce whether she will seek the White House by late 2014 — potentially becoming the first female president — and the book arrives as Republicans have questioned her handling of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, and other decisions on her watch.
In the excerpts, the former first lady and New York senator says she didn’t write the book for followers of “Washington’s long-running soap opera,” but Americans and people everywhere who are trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world. Clinton says, “One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country. It has been the greatest honor of my life.”
She aims to describe her time at State in terms that average Americans can understand, writing that everyone faces difficult choices over how to balance careers with family responsibilities. For leaders and nations, she said, those choices “can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.”
When she chose to move to Arkansas and marry future president Bill Clinton and start a family, Clinton writes that “my friends asked, ‘Are you out of your mind?‘ I heard similar questions when I took on health care reform as first lady, ran for office myself,” and became Obama’s secretary of state.
The four years were a “personal journey,” Clinton writes, that brought her an “unexpected partnership and friendship” with her former rival, Obama.
Addressing national security, Clinton says the need to keep America “safe, strong, and prosperous presents an endless set of choices, many of which come with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives.”
She cites Obama’s decision to authorize the raid to capture Osama bin Laden as a leading example, noting the president’s top advisers were divided and the intelligence “was compelling, but far from definitive.”
“It was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen,” Clinton writes.
In recent speeches, Clinton has pointed to the bin Laden raid and other highlights of her time at State, describing her work with Obama to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions, set the groundwork for Middle East peace and help Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. She has called the Benghazi attack her biggest regret as secretary of state.
Staying above the fray, Clinton writes the nation will continue to play a vital role, “so long as we stay true to our values and remember that, before we are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, or any of the other labels that divide us as often as define us, we are Americans, all with a personal stake in our country.”
By releasing the 1,400-word excerpt two weeks before the publication date, Clinton’s publisher and advisers are setting the tone for the book ahead of any inadvertent leaks to news outlets. Vogue magazine published a short excerpt on Mother’s Day about Clinton’s late mother, Dorothy Rodham, and Clinton discussed the book’s title in an interview with People magazine.
Clinton will give her first television interviews to ABC News beginning on June 9 with Diane Sawyer, followed by a live interview on June 10 with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.”
Simon & Schuster said the initial printing will be 1 million copies.