On Sunday, Clinton firmly countered that view, arguing that the country has for decades urged Mubarak both publicly and privately to implement meaningful reforms.
Mubarak appointed a vice president Saturday for the first time in his presidency. But Clinton said Omar Suleiman's swearing-in is only the first step toward reforms.
"There has been for 30 years a both public and private dialogue with the Egyptian government, sometimes more public, sometimes more private, but all with the same message, from Republican and Democratic administrations, that there needs to be reform," Clinton said on "This Week."
"One of the items on that long list was appointing a vice president. that has happened. But that is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we've been urging and that President Mubarak himself discussed in his speech the other day," she added.
The White House wants Mubarak to immediately begin a dialogue with the civil society, fully restore modes of communication like cell phone services and the internet and lift the emergency law -- which has been in place since 1967 and gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.
Al Jazeera's Arabic-language station said Sunday it was ordered to shut down its bureau in Cairo and was taken off the air in Egypt.
A senior administration official told ABC News' Jake Tapper that Mubarak needs to commence at once with democratic, economic and social reforms.
"We felt the U.S. push for democracy in the region had become -- rightly or wrongly, fairly or not -- associated with U.S. attempts to dictate political outcomes in countries," the official said. "We wanted to change the conversation to support for a universal set of rights," and not be seen as pushing for any specific desired outcome.
This is the reason why, the official said, the United States has not asked Mubarak to step down; the United States shouldn't pick the leaders of other countries, the Egyptian people should.
Mubarak named Suleiman, his intelligence chief, the country's vice president in what some say is a sign that Mubarak is paving the way for a successor. He also named Dr. Ahmed Shafeeq, minister of aviation and ex-leader of the Egyptian Air force, as new prime minister in charge of forming the new cabinet.
Suleiman, 74, has led major foreign policy issues in Egypt such as the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, according to The Associated Press. For an intelligence chief, Suleiman enjoyed unusually high level access within successive U.S. administrations. Clinton usually only meets with foreign ministers, but would meet with Suleiman one-on-one when he visited Washington on his own.
But anti-government activists in Egypt say Suleiman's appointment and U.S. rhetoric alone won't be enough to quell the crowds.
"To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years is an oxymoron," Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who returned to the country on Thursday to join protests, said on "This Week." "Everybody must understand that it will not end until Mubarak leaves today."
Protests have spread through Arab countries in recent weeks, starting with street demonstrations in Tunisia which forced its long-time president Ben Ali to flee. Since then, protests have erupted in Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, all U.S. allies.
ABC News' Kirit Radia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.