WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton writes in new excerpts from her upcoming book that she wishes she could go back and reconsider some of her past decisions but she is “proud of what we accomplished” during her time as secretary of state.
Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, writes in an author’s note released Tuesday that her four years running the State Department for President Barack Obama taught her about the United States’ “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.”
“Hard Choices,” Clinton’s book about her time at the State Department, will be released June 10. The book arrives as the former first lady considers another White House campaign and as Republicans seek to question her handling of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, and other decisions on her watch.
In the excerpts, Clinton writes that 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 aims to recount her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat in terms that average Americans can understand, writing that everyone faces hard choices on how to balance their careers with family responsibilities. “Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. For leaders and nations, they can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity,” she wrote.
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 accepted” Obama’s offer to become secretary of state.
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 that the president’s top advisers were divided and the intelligence “was compelling, but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting.”
Clinton writes, “It was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.”
In recent speeches, Clinton has pointed to the bin Laden raid and cited other highlights of her time at the State Department, describing her work with Obama to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions, set the groundwork for Middle East peace, help Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and re-establish diplomatic ties with Myanmar. She has called the Benghazi attack her biggest regret as secretary of state.
If she runs for president, the author’s note offers clues to how Clinton may characterize the nation’s role in the 21st century. She writes that “talk of America’s decline has become commonplace, but my faith in our future has never been greater. While there are few problems in today’s world that the United States can solve alone, there are even fewer that can be solved without the United States.”
“Everything that I have done and seen has convinced me that America remains the `indispensable nation.’ I am just as convinced, however, that our leadership is not a birthright. It must be earned by every generation,” she writes.
In speeches, Clinton has often derided partisanship and gridlock in the nation’s capital, a theme that she is expected to revisit in the book. She writes the nation will continue to play a vital role around the globe, “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 featuring a tribute from Clinton to her late mother, Dorothy Rodham, and the former first lady discussed her choice for 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 a prime-time special with Diane Sawyer, followed by a live interview on June 10 with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.”
Clinton says in making the major decisions of her life, she has “listened to both my heart and my head. I followed my heart to Arkansas; it burst with love at the birth of our daughter, Chelsea; and it ached with the losses of my father and mother. My head urged me forward in my education and professional choices.”
“And my heart and head together sent me into public service,” Clinton writes. “Along the way, I’ve tried not to make the same mistake twice, to learn, to adapt, and to pray for the wisdom to make better choices in the future.”
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