Mon, May 19, 2014 - Page 7 News List

As Clinton touts record, critics dig for Achilles heel


Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton waits to speak at the World Bank in Washington on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

She sounds increasingly like a presidential contender, but as former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a run, Republicans are taking aim at her record in a bid to smother the momentum building around her prospective campaign.

With critics dragging her into the political fray before she has announced 2016 plans, Team Clinton is pushing back against Republican storylines that she may not be fit for another gruelling White House race, and that she was an ineffectual US secretary of state crafting her own political future instead of advancing US interests.

Clinton, hawking a new memoir, insisted she adeptly handled an “endless set of tough calls” as the top US diplomat, prodding Iran into nuclear talks and nudging the Mideast peace process forward.

Republicans see it differently.

“History will judge” her record, said US Senator Bob Corker, top Republican on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Below are issues that could be Clinton’s Achilles’ heels, and the defense she is building against them.

Clinton would be 69 should she win in 2016, younger only than former US president Ronald Reagan when he first took office.

Republicans tiptoed around the subject — until strategist Karl Rove attacked Clinton’s health head on last week, suggesting she suffered traumatic brain injury from a 2012 fall.

Her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, insisted she works out regularly and is in “better shape” than him.

And while he said there was nothing to Rove’s charge, the ex-president acknowledged a candidate’s health is fair game in national campaigns.

The terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012, occurred on Hillary Clinton’s watch.

While she has deemed it her darkest hour and taken responsibility, Republicans latched on like pit bulls, adding that US President Barack Obama’s administration bungled consular security and misled Americans about what triggered the attack.

“What difference does it make?” Hillary Clinton told lawmakers when pressed about whether the assault was planned or spontaneous.

Vowing to get to the “truth,” the GOP set up a select committee on Benghazi, expecting Hillary Clinton to be the chief witness.

“Should we as a country have a commander-in-chief who didn’t provide adequate security in Libya, didn’t send reinforcements and then gave us nothing but spin?” asked Senator Rand Paul, himself a likely 2016 contender.

Hillary Clinton devoted an entire chapter to the tragedy in her forthcoming book, and her husband insisted “Hillary did what she should have done” on Benghazi.

On Wednesday she said she “worked, cajoled and implored” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas into face-to-face negotiations over a two-state solution.

Republicans counter that the Middle East peace process collapsed, Syria is plagued by civil war and Egypt seethes with unrest.

And poignant criticism came from the Democratic camp, with former US president Jimmy Carter saying Hillary Clinton “took very little action to bring about peace.”

On Iran, she boasts co-authoring Obama’s strategy of threatening tough economic sanctions while urging negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program, culminating in a preliminary accord.

The kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamist extremists Boko Haram is Clinton’s newest political headache.

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