Hillary Clinton On Post-White House Debt: We Had To 'Keep Working Really Hard'

Clinton: "I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today."

June 10, 2014, 6:57 PM

June 10, 2014 -- In an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America" today with ABC's Robin Roberts, Hillary Clinton said the debt she and former President Bill Clinton faced after leaving the White House meant the couple had to "keep working really hard" in the years that followed.

"As I recall we were something like $12 million in debt," Hillary Clinton told Roberts, referring to the hefty legal bills the couple faced after Bill Clinton's second term.

"What we faced when he got out of the White House meant that we just had to keep working really hard," she added.

Today marks the publication of Clinton's new memoir, "Hard Choices." This morning's interview follows ABC's Diane Sawyer's exclusive wide-ranging conversation with Clinton, which aired last night, in which Clinton asserted that she and her husband emerged from the White House "not only dead broke, but in debt."

"We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education," she told Sawyer. "You know, it was not easy."

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The comments have been seized upon by critics who say Clinton is "out of touch."

"Despite a six-figure taxpayer funded income and a book deal worth $8 million, it's laughable to think that Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House broke," Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement on Monday. "Between their million dollar mansions in New York and Washington and her ridiculously expensive speaking fees, it's clear nobody could be more out of touch than Hillary Clinton."

In her interview with Roberts this morning, Clinton acknowledged that she and her husband, who have both earned millions in speaking fees since leaving public life, have been "blessed in the last 14 years."

"I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today," Clinton told Roberts. "It's an issue I've worked on and cared about my entire adult life."

She added, "We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans, but we also had gone through some of the same challenges."

Benghazi: 'There Were Systemic Problems'

In her conversation with Roberts, Clinton refused to apologize for the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Roberts noted in Clinton's new book out today "Hard Choices," Clinton apologizes for her 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq, writing, "In our political culture, saying you made a mistake is often taken as weakness when in fact it can be a sign of strength and growth."

When it comes to Benghazi, however, the former secretary of state said she believes "there were systemic problems within the State Department and clearly if we had known that earlier perhaps we could have done some changes that could have prevented -- at least hopefully could have prevented -- what happened."

"But, I've obviously thought about this long and hard and the security issues around this attack or the attacks we had when my husband was president or when President Reagan was in office. You learn from them," Clinton said. "You can't always predict, you can't always sit in an office in Washington and say, 'Well we think this, this, and this will happen.' So I believe the independent review reached the right conclusion. There were problems and they needed to be addressed and we did. Whether those could have been understood earlier, I'm just not sure about that, Robin."

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the attack.

On Her Husband's Comments About Health

Clinton also weighed in on her health, specifically her husband Bill Clinton's recent remark that her recovery from a fall in late 2012 "required six months of very serious work to get over."

Clinton laughed, but then explained her husband was referring to her concussion and the diagnosis from her doctor who told her, "'Look, you are going to be fine, you are going to fully recover. We're going to make sure of that by telling you what to do and how to do that .'"

She did acknowledge that she had "some lingering effects," including "dizziness" and "double vision."

"I worked out, I did everything that I was told to do and they said at the time in six months we need to have you come back and do a full array of tests to make sure that everything is fine and it was and I think that's what he meant," Clinton said, referring to her husband's comments.

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