Obama Still Counts Hillary Clinton as ‘Close Friend’ Despite Criticism

Aug 13, 2014 9:34am

MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass. – President Obama takes no offense to Hillary Clinton‘s recent criticism of the president’s foreign policy, the White House told ABC News, as the two prepare to meet face-to-face at a friend’s party here tonight.

“She remains a close friend of the president’s and I think the point is that their friendship extends well beyond any differences or anything that is spun up in the public sphere,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl Tuesday.

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Clinton had suggested in an interview with The Atlantic that Obama’s failure to support moderate rebels in Syria fueled the rise of the terrorist group the United States is now bombing in Iraq.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad – there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle – the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

But Rhodes said Clinton and Obama have had a “long relationship. They understand that they agree on the broad majority of issues involving America’s role in the world. They’ve had occasional differences. This is not a new one as it relates to Syria. She wrote about it in her book.

“They are in agreement as it relates to a broad majority of things that we’re engaged in around the world, including our effort to protect our people and provide humanitarian aid in Iraq right now,” he added.

Clinton later called the president to “make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership,” according to her spokesman, Nick Merrill.

The former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate “looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other,” Merrill said.

The Obamas, who are on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, and Clinton, who has a book signing on the island today, are attending a birthday party for a mutual friend tonight.

“They’ll have a good chance to see each other,” Rhodes said, “have a laugh about this, move on.”

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