President Barack Obama doesn’t believe comments made by his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how she and former President Bill Clinton were “not only dead broke but in debt” when they exited the White House will matter too much if she chooses to run for president.
“As soon as you jump back into the spotlight in a more explicitly political way, you’re going to be fly-spec like this,” Obama told ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. “She’s accustomed to it. Anybody who gets involved in public life is accustomed to it. Over time I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference.”
Obama asserted that his onetime political rival has a record that speaks for itself.
“I think that Hillary has been to this rodeo a bunch of times,” he said. “She is in public service [be]cause she cares about the same folks that I talked to here today. Her track record on that speaks for itself.”
The president said Clinton’s potential re-entry into the political sphere invites more scrutiny, but said she has experience dealing with harsh criticism and the “dead broke” comment would not likely dog her long-term.
Clinton, widely seen as the strongest contender for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, is currently promoting her new book “Hard Choices.” It was during her first television interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in which she said, “We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt.”
The former secretary of state has also drawn criticism for collecting large speaking fees.
While some political analysts have speculated that the backlash over Clinton’s wealth comments could divide the Democratic Party, Obama said Democrats were “surprisingly unified” on economic priorities.
“This whole notion of you got the centrist Democrats and the liberal Democrats, if you look at Democrats generally, their agenda is grounded in the things that middle-class families are concerned about generally,” Obama said. “Wages, incomes, fairness, opportunity, college costs, and so you don’t have some of the same old ideological divisions. In fact, the big challenge we have right now is frankly finding a Republican Party that is even close to the center so that we can actually do some work with them.”