The reception Clinton gets is likely to help her decide
whether to launch a bid to be elected the first woman U.S.
president. Polls show she is the overwhelming favorite for the
Democratic presidential nomination should she run.
Clinton says she will make up her mind about a presidential run
after the November congressional elections, though many
Democrats think she will run. Those close to her say the book
tour will help her decide.
"I think essentially this is to gauge what the reaction is to
the book and gauge what the reaction is as she tours the
country," said a Clinton associate.
The tour allows her to "get her toe in the water without
drowning," the associate said.
Clinton - a woman whose every move, from her hairstyle to her
pending status as a grandmother, is watched with an unsparing
eye - will use the book tour to shift the conversation to her
foreign policy record.
The book, titled "Hard Choices," hits bookstores on Tuesday.
The tour, with stops in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and
Washington this week, puts her in the public spotlight in a more
intensive way than at any time since she resigned as secretary
of state early in 2013.
Clinton loyalists believe the book will show her to be a foreign
policy pragmatist during what she considers to be the most
successful period of her political life.
Her four years at the State Department were not, however,
without controversy, and Clinton is using the tour to defend her
record and explain her reasoning behind key decisions.
A chapter is devoted to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack by militants
on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S.
ambassador to Libya was killed. Republicans have accused
then-Secretary Clinton of not doing more to ensure the safety of
In an ABC interview airing on Monday night, Clinton said she was
"ultimately responsible for my people's safety." But pressed on
whether there was more she could have done, Clinton said there
"I'm not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine
where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements
need to be," she said. "That's why we hire people who have that
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Republicans are vowing to keep the issue alive, saying it
calls into question how she would deal with foreign policy
crises as president.
"Benghazi is not going away," said Republican strategist Scott
In the book, Clinton treads a careful path between being a
faithful servant to Obama and someone who would chart her own
course on the global stage.
In what may be an attempt to head off criticism from the left,
she disavows her 2002 Senate vote in favor of the Iraq war, a
vote Obama used effectively against Clinton in defeating her for
the nomination in 2008.
She defends her much-criticized "reset" in U.S.-Russian
relations as a linguistic mistake, an episode that is all the
more glaring now with Russia's incursion into Ukraine and
Washington-Moscow ties at their lowest ebb since the Cold War.
Clinton says she differed with Obama on deciding not to arm
Syrian rebels. She is skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban,
a move that gives her some distance from uncomfortable questions
regarding Obama's swap of five high-value Taliban prisoners for Army
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
"Itís a campaign book, but what she is trying to do is set the
record straight, then move on to other things. So thatís why itís
coming out now," said Keith Urbahn, a book agent for conservatives.
The book tour recalls Clinton's "listening tour" of New York state,
which she conducted before deciding to run for a New York Senate
seat in 2000, an election she won.
"I am convinced that she has already decided to run and that she
will run and that she will be the nominee. I think this is just the
first phase of the process," said Democratic strategist Bob Shrum,
who advised John Kerry on his 2004 presidential run.
(Editing by Caren Bohan and Douglas Royalty)
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