Bruised by emails, Clinton seeks second wind in US race
Hillary Clinton, entangled in an email controversy, has long dismissed the uproar as a manufactured imbroglio. But faced with eroding support, the Democratic presidential frontrunner recognizes she must now humbly explain herself.
The former secretary of state has granted an interview to MSNBC set for broadcast Friday, only her third on television since the start of her campaign in April.
That’s far fewer than just about all of her Democratic and Republican rivals, who are tripping over one another to get coverage.
Her team promised more would follow.
“She wants to be transparent. She wants to answer any questions about Benghazi, which was the original scope of this investigation,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told MSNBC.
“But also her email she has said is fair game, she’s willing to answer any questions about that.”
Clinton knows that the journalists following her Friday to the US island territory of Puerto Rico are less concerned, for now, with the candidate’s detailed proposals to improve the economy or fight climate change.
It is her use of a private email account and home server in lieu of the official government email system while she served as top diplomat from 2009 to 2013 that is dominating the Clinton news cycle.
The Department of State, to which Hillary Clinton already turned over 30,000 official emails in late 2014, has publicly released thousands of them in the interests of transparency.
Many contain information that has been retroactively classified, raising questions about whether Clinton was inappropriately sending and receiving highly sensitive material, and whether sufficient security measures were in place to protect her server from hackers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the server, which she eventually handed over after months of refusal, to determine whether the arrangement has compromised secret government data.
Three committees in Congress, which is controlled by Republicans, have launched aggressive investigations and have called on Clinton employees to testify, including her advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday and her longtime adviser and lawyer Cheryl Mills on Thursday.
Clinton herself testified October 22 before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Libya.
The committee, denounced by Democrats as a partisan propaganda tool, has broadened its probe to include Clinton’s emails.
That hearing will take place nine days after the first televised Democratic primary debate, set for October 13.
– Warning signs –
In March, as the scandal emerged, Clinton played down the hacking risk, assuring Americans that no classified information had been transmitted via her email account.
That tone soon changed. She has recognized that voters have legitimate questions, admitting last week that, in retrospect, deciding to not use government email “clearly wasn’t the best choice.”
Warning signs have emerged in New Hampshire, where her approval rating has slid and polls show liberal Senator Bernie Sanders running neck and neck against her.
The state holds the second nominating contest in the nation, after Iowa, and a victory there could help pave her path to the nomination.
Adding to the Clinton concern is Vice President Joe Biden, who has begun publicly discussing the prospects of jumping into the race.
“The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run,” Biden, who lost his son Beau to cancer in May, said Thursday, implying he would be able to compete should he run.
In August, Clinton became the first major candidate to put up television campaign advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire.
And five months before the first primaries, her team told CNN Thursday that millions more dollars would be spent on ad campaigns in September and October.