'Smart Power' Is Clinton's Vow at Hearings

After a warm reception during the morning session on Capitol Hill, Sen. Hillary Clinton faced tougher questions this afternoon about potential conflicts of interest her husband's fundraising could pose if she is confirmed as secretary of state.

Concerns about former President Bill Clinton's financial ties to foreign governments were expected to be the biggest hurdle in the New York senator's otherwise noncontroversial nomination to be the country's top diplomat.

Clinton had tried to defuse the issue before the hearing by promising in a Memorandum of Understanding that donors to her husband's Clinton Foundation would be made public in the future.

But Republicans sought additional assurances during confirmation hearings today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asking that Clinton agree to more stringent reporting rules concerning what donations her husband would accept, what would be disclosed and how frequently that information would be released.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., specifically called on Clinton to provide more reporting on contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative, which he said was not included in the Clinton Foundation's donation reporting.

Clinton balked, saying the foundation is going "beyond even what the rules would call for" in disclosing and preclearing donors.

"I recognize that these are unique circumstances, to say the least," Clinton said. "It is not unique, however, for spouses of government officials to work, and there are very well-established rules."

Clinton resisted Vitter's insistence on tougher language, saying, "There is no intention to amend the MOU. It has been worked out between the transition and the foundation."


Earlier Tuesday, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said he worried about the "perception problems" of having Clinton in the post as Bill Clinton continues his overseas fundraising for his foundation. Lugar asked that the former president "foreswear" taking any more donations from foreign governments.

"I share the president-elect's view that the activities of the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton himself should not be a barrier to Sen. Clinton's service," Lugar said. "But I also share the view, implicitly recognized by the Memorandum of Understanding, that the work of the Clinton Foundation is a unique complication that will have to be managed with great care and transparency."

The panel's leader John Kerry, D-Mass., concurred that Lugar's concerns about the foundation's donations were not partisan, but reflect the concerns of committee as a whole.

Still, in their opening statements, both Lugar and Kerry expressed support for Clinton's nomination. Lugar even called Clinton "the epitome of a big leaguer."

Although Clinton's daughter Chelsea was seated behind her, Bill Clinton watched the hearing from the Clinton's Washington home.

The panel hopes to vote on Clinton's nomination Thursday.

Clinton Talks Iran and Israel

The clash over donations to her husband's charity was the only bump in an otherwise smooth appearance by Clinton before her Senate colleagues in which she outlined a foreign policy that indicated she would break sharply with the Bush administration.

Clinton described a geopolitical strategy that places greater emphasis on diplomacy and a strategy she called "smart power."

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