Hillary Clinton’s latest attempt to explain away her comment that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House has prompted her to possibly stumble into another verbal thicket, saying that they are not “truly well off.”
In an interview with the Guardian published Sunday, Hillary Clinton made a third attempt to tamp down the “dead broke” comment, made earlier this month to ABC’s Diane Sawyer. While defending the millions of dollars she and the ex-president have earned giving paid speeches and writing books, she insisted they are not “truly well off” like other wealthy people they know, fueling criticism that the potential presidential candidate does not relate to ordinary people.
Here are the different ways Clinton, who is hawking her latest book “Hard Choices,” has tried to explain her claim to poverty:
Take 1: I Do Understand Middle Class Struggles
Hillary Clinton took her first whack at clarifying what she meant during an interview on Good Morning America the morning after her interview with Diane Sawyer. In it, she made clear that she too grew up with financial challenges and hardships.
“We understand what that struggles I, because we had student debts, both of us, we had to pay off,” Clinton told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “I had a couple of jobs in law school. He had a lot of jobs. We have a life experiences that’s clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans, but also we have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have.”
On Sunday, Clinton’s spokesperson Nick Merrill reiterated this sentiment in a statement to the Washington Post: “Whoever thinks she has lost touch is clearly not in touch with her or her long-held beliefs. If they were, they’d know that reducing inequality and increasing upward mobility has been an uninterrupted pursuit of hers through every job she’s held and continues to this day in her work at the Clinton Foundation.”
Take 2: I Should Have Said It More Artfully
During an interview with longtime friend and former Bill Clinton adviser, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ribbed Hillary Clinton on the remark.
“Dead broke,” Emanuel said to Clinton. “Really?”
To some audience laughter at the event for Chicago Ideas Week, Clinton admitted her word choice was not ideal.
“That may have not been the most artful way of saying that Bill and I have gone through a lot of different phases in our lives. That was then, this is now. Obviously, we are very fortunate. We’ve been given great opportunities,” Clinton said.
She added that she and Bill Clinton have been “through ups and downs like a lot of people,” but that “clearly, we’re very grateful for the opportunities we’ve had.”
Take 3: At Least I Pay My Taxes
In an interview with the Guardian published Sunday, Hillary Clinton took a third stab at clarifying her “dead broke” comment by insisting that she’s not “truly well off” and that at least she pays her taxes.
“‘But they don’t see me as part of the problem,’ she protests, ‘because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we’ve done it through dint of hard work,’ she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.”
This response might be proof that the third time is not always a charm. Clinton’s most recent attempt at clarifying the remark has only raised more eyebrows and fueled more questions about the likely presidential candidate’s ability to relate to average American.