WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton’s memoir provides a template for the economic message of a possible 2016 campaign: her work in such places as Algeria and Austria as secretary of state helped boost jobs at home.
In the sixth and final section of “Hard Choices,” scheduled for release Tuesday from Simon & Schuster, Clinton writes that she jetted to foreign capitals as advocate-in-chief for American companies such as General Electric, Boeing, and Federal Express to help them close deals that would translate into U.S. jobs.
While most secretaries of state point to treaties and negotiated settlements as signature achievements, Clinton allies say she could give that a different twist by talking about the jobs she created as the nation’s top diplomat.
“She provided strong support for American business and in so doing supported a lot of U.S. jobs,” Bob Hormats, who worked under Clinton at the State Department, said in an interview. “She could certainly go to a Caterpillar plant or a Boeing plant or even small companies and say ‘I used the power and influence of the secretary of state and of the state department and of our embassies to enhance business opportunities for this company and for the workers of this company.’”
One example she uses in the book is lobbying Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on behalf of GE, which was seeking $2.5 billion contract to help build six natural gas plants in the Northern African nation.
After the meeting, Clinton wrote, she was “optimistic” the company would prevail and “less than a year later” it did.
“Over the next few years GE will build generators and giant turbines for these plants in Schenectady, New York, and Greenville, South Carolina, supporting thousands of manufacturing jobs,” Clinton wrote.
The strategy paints Clinton’s closeness to the leaders of some of America’s largest companies as an asset, which could blunt some Democrats’ complaints about her business ties. Clinton has faced criticism for her advocacy on behalf of Boeing, which she’s repeatedly tapped to finance pet projects.
Clinton, 66, writes about an October 2009 trip to Moscow where she pushed the Russians to pick the U.S. airline manufacturer for a $4 billion contract.
“I made the case that Boeing’s jets set the global gold standard,” Clinton wrote. When Boeing won the deal for 50 new planes, Clinton noted the work will be “translated into thousands of American jobs.”
Shortly after the Moscow meeting, Boeing donated $2 million to help fund an American pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, a world fair that attracted displays from roughly 250 countries and international groups. The American exhibition had a $60 million price tag, and Clinton had to finance it with private funds since Congress had barred U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used on such projects.
The company also has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, that philanthropic organization that she, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, operate.
Neither of those donations are covered in the book.
Former aides said that she turned a thousand “economic officers” scattered in embassies worldwide into “jobs officers” who were given the task of meeting with representatives of U.S. companies seeking overseas contracts and executives of foreign businesses considering plants in the U.S.
“What we did was double down with the fixation of making sure we do everything we can in terms of job creation, in both places, overseas and the United States,” said Tom Nides, a deputy secretary of state under Clinton.
Clinton takes credit in the book for delivering more than $200 million in “economic impact” to Tennessee and Texas thanks to the state department’s “little noticed” Open Skies Agreements.
The program, she said, gave U.S. airlines access to new routes, including direct flights between Memphis and Amsterdam that she said added $120 million annually to Tennessee’s economy.
The same program, she said, helped American Airlines win flights to Madrid, which had a $100 million annual impact on the Texas economy, Clinton wrote.
“I made export promotion a personal mission,” Clinton wrote. “During my travel I often made a pitch for an American business product.”