Hillary Clinton, an early front- runner in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, said that though she’s contemplating a run, she won’t make a decision soon.
“I am thinking about it,” the former secretary of State said Tuesday in a question-and-answer session following a speech at a conference in San Francisco hosted by Marketo, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of digital marketing software. “I’m not going to make a decision for a while because I’m actually enjoying my life.”
Clinton, drawing upon her stint as America’s top diplomat, also told her audience that Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin is “a tough guy with a thin skin” who is trying to rebuild his country’s empire. She called his annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region “illegal” and a violation of international law.
“I have had my personal experiences with him,” said Clinton, who retired early last year as secretary. “He is very difficult to read personally, and he is always looking for advantage. So he will try to put you ill at ease. He will even throw an insult your way. He will look bored and dismissive.”
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She said the global economic market is doing its part to rein in Putin.
“The flood of money out of Russia in the last several months has been astonishing, and I hope it continues,” said Clinton, a former Democratic senator representing New York whose husband served as president from 1993 to 2001. “That is the best way to undermine the oligarchs who support him, undermine his own economic interests.”
Clinton called social media “an important, essential catalyst for organization and action,” citing its use by activists during the January 2011 rebellion that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and in other uprisings in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring.
Still, recalling a meeting with the social-media drivers of that effort soon after the revolt, she said they didn’t have a vision for what to do next.
“There is no doubt that social media, in and of itself, has an enormous transformative effect, but that can’t be the end of the story,” she said. “Or you leave that to people who can care less about Twitter; they care about power and they intend to exercise it and take advantage of everybody else.”
At the State Department, Clinton encouraged embassies to use websites run by Twitter and Facebook.
Clinton said she was sorry that a push led by President Obama’s administration to revise immigration policy has failed to advance in Congress.
The technology industry has been advocating for more visas for skilled immigrant workers. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg last year announced the formation of an advocacy group, Fwd.us, and has met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to press the effort.
“I’m disappointed that it’s still a contentious issue,” Clinton said of the overall immigration debate. “It’s essential to keep focused on the visa issue because that’s a discreet problem that, even though I’d like to see it be part of an overall comprehensive reform, you have to keep pushing to open the aperture.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, R, who is also considering a run for president, this week urged lawmakers to avoid “harsh political rhetoric” in discussing immigration, saying many undocumented workers who enter the U.S. are seeking to provide for their families in an “act of love.”
Clinton has said previously she will make her decision on a 2016 run later this year. She lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama in 2008.
“The hard questions are not: ‘Do you want to be president? Can you win?,'” she said at Tuesday’s conference. “The hard questions are: ‘Why would you want to do this and what can you offer that could make a difference?'”
More than half of the respondents in a recent Pew Research Center/USA Today poll said they’d like Clinton to run for president in 2016, including 76 percent of Democrats. Among independents in the survey, released in early March, 45 percent said they’d like her to run and 48 percent said they wouldn’t.
“I’m actually having fun doing ordinary things like seeing my friends and going on long walks and playing with our dogs,” said Clinton, 66.