Hillary Clinton: ‘A Little Bit Crazy to Run for President’

Hillary Rodham Clinton on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Photograph by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Hillary Rodham Clinton on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Written with Lisa Lerer, updated at 1:25 and 6 pm EDT

Hillary Clinton, who’s been having trouble explaining her wealth in a series of  interviews as part of her book tour, says she can handle herself just fine.

She doesn’t need any help explaining things.

Not even Bill Clinton’s help.

As the two appeared at a Clinton Global Initiative event in Denver yesterday, the former president maintained that the former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state is “not out of touch” with real Americans.

“My husband was very sweet today, but I don’t need anybody to defend my record, I think my record speaks for itself,” Clinton said in a separate interview with Gwen Ifill airing on PBS NewsHour this evening.

Clinton, who at times has spoken of being “dead broke” as they were leaving the White House and now, millions of dollars in book sales and paid speeches later, not being “truly well off,” maintains that she could have chosen some words more carefully.

“I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said,” she says in the PBS interview, according to excerpts released today, “ but my inartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today.”

“Bill and I have had terrific opportunities, both of us, you know, have worked hard, but we’ve been grateful for everything that we’ve been able to achieve, and sadly that’s just not true for most Americans today,” she says. “So many Americans are feeling, you know, shut out, shut down, the great recession hasn’t ended for too many Americans, wages are flat, families are struggling, not enough new jobs, or new businesses are being created, and it’s important that we all try to figure out what we’re going to do.”

And Clinton, who has said she will decide by the end of this year and announce perhaps early next year about running for president again in 2016, also allows this:

“Well, you have to be a little bit crazy to run for president.”

“You have to be so totally immersed, and so convinced that you can bring something to that office, that your vision about what you can do to help Americans,” she says. “ I know that my life of service is the biggest reason why I would consider doing this, because I would want to continue serving, but I also know that it’s a very hard job, and it’s a job that, you know, you have to be totally consumed by, and that’s kind of the definition of being a little bit crazy, I think.”

Clinton also says she wants to enjoy the birth of a grandchild later this year before embarking on any campaign.  Daughter Chelsea is expecting this fall.

“I also know that when you make that decision, if it’s a go decision, there’s nothing else,” says the Democrat who sought her party’s nomination in 2008. “That is what you have to do full speed. I don’t want to be looking over my new grandchild’s shoulder, wondering what’s happening in state X or Y, I want to be fully engaged, and then as I’ve said many times, you know, toward the end of the year I will sit down and try to make sense of my conflicted feelings.”

Bill Clinton, whom President Barack Obama has thanked for being the “secretary of explaining stuff,” was speaking today about his plans for continuing his charitable work, the far-flung work of the Clinton Foundation — even if his wife should become president.

“If she were to run and become president, the last thing she needs is for me to be underfoot,” he said at  a policy forum sponsored by Bloomberg LP, his comments aired on Bloomberg Television.

His foundation will set up rules to ensure transparency, said Clinton  — similar to those established when Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state. During that period, the former president cleared all his speeches in advance and paid close attention to foundation donations — particularly those from abroad.

“I think we shouldn’t have to shut it down,” he said.

On that business about explaining stuff — the title Obama bestowed on Clinton after their party’s 2012 convention in Charlotte  — Clinton’s words about the way the wealthy Republican Mitt Romney was explaining his policies are worth recalling today:

“I was always told that when you’re in a hole the first thing to do is stop digging,” Clinton said to laughter on the 2012 campaign trail for Obama.

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