As if comparing Hillary Clinton to Thomas Jefferson wasn't hyperbolic enough, ABC's Cynthia McFadden on Wednesday practically begged the Secretary of State to run for president. The Nightline co-anchor lobbied Clinton, lecturing her about the "obligation" she has to "break through that glass ceiling." Yet, the reporter could only manage the most gentle probing into the issue of the terrorist attack in Libya.
McFadden pressed the Democrat to run in 2016, asking the question no less than four times. If it appeared, the journalist wondered, "that you might be the person who could actually break through that glass ceiling and become the first female president of this country, would you feel a certain obligation to seize that mantle?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Any answer other than yes seemed not good enough.
She pushed, "But there's never been a woman who really had a credible chance. And it looks as if you might just be that person. And I know how seriously you take commitment and obligation."
As though she were an excited fan at a sci-fi convention, the journalist pleaded, "...Are we up to maybe?"
Finally, after quizzing Clinton about her health, McFadden got to the issue of dead Americans in Libya. She charitably described the Secretary of State's evasive testimony before Congress this way: "In her testimony, Clinton pulled no punches."
McFadden's first question wasn't really a query at all. Citing Clinton's line about "what difference does it make" over how the attack occurred, the anchor sympathized, "It seemed as though you lost your temper at the hearing."
She then asked the Secretary if she "regretted" that statement and whether, "you stand by what you said?"
What kind of a question is that? Would Clinton say no? How about pressing her on the details of the attack?"
ABC donated 15 minutes over three programs (Nightline, World News and Good Morning America) to Clinton. At least McFadden could offer some truly hard questions. She opened the segment by pretending it would be this way, declaring that "No topic was off-limits, from the most contentious global issues to the most intensely personal ones."
Topics may not have been "off limits," but they certainly were framed in a friendly way. For more on this interview, go here.
A partial transcript of the January 30 segment is below:
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: She has met with world leaders 1,700 times in the past four years, but as of Friday, Hillary Clinton will no longer be secretary of state. Today, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was confirmed as her successor. I've interviewed Secretary Clinton nearly a dozen times and I've never seen her so relaxed or upbeat. We sat down for her last television interview in office. No topic was off-limits, from the most contentious global issues to the most intensely personal ones. She's been Secretary of State for four years. Visited 112 countries. More than any of her predecessors. Logged almost a million miles. But it's where she's going next that has everybody talking. Let's just say this isn't the first time the question has come up. In Moscow three years ago, you told me, "I have absolutely no interest in running for president, none." You're never going to run for president again?"
HILLARY CLINTON [file footage] : I have absolutely no interest in running for president again. None, none.
MCFADDEN: Two years ago you said the exact same thing in Australia. [File footage.] You said talk about the future. You said you're not running for president in 2012 or 2016 or 2020. [Cut to present day.] And yet in the past few days, a PAC called Ready for Hillary has been launched. Can you still say with a straight face that there's no way you would consider running for president?
CLINTON: Sitting here now, that is certainly what I believe, and I am, you know, still the Secretary of State, so I'm not in politics. I'm going to be focusing on my philanthropy, my charities, my writing and speaking. So I am looking forward to having something resembling a normal life again.
MCFADDEN: And yet, are we up to maybe?
CLINTON [Laughs]: That's very good, Cynthia. Well, of course, of course, I am flattered and honored. I didn't even know about some of these things that are happening now. I don't know how else to say it, but I am going to get back into my life again. This is going to be new for me. I don't know how I'm going to react to it, to be honest.
MCFADDEN: When you conceded defeat in the primary, you made a famous speech in which you said that there were 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.
CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it.
MCFADDEN: If, in the course of the next couple years, it appears, as it does appear right now, that you might be the person who could actually break through that glass ceiling and become the first female president of this country, would you feel a certain obligation to seize that mantle?
CLINTON: I do want to see that glass ceiling shattered. I don't think it has to be any particular person.
MCFADDEN: But there's never been a woman who really had a credible chance. And it looks as if you might just be that person. And I know how seriously you take commitment and obligation.
CLINTON: Right. But I'm not making any commitments or obligations because I do take them seriously.
MCFADDEN: What else goes with the territory? Something Clinton is certainly familiar with– harsh criticism and tough questions. She was called before Congress last week and grilled over what she has called the low point in her tenure, the security lapse in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In the first days, the controversy reached a boiling point over this.
RICE: There was a violent protest. Violent protest outside our embassy.
MCFADDEN: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice's explanation that the murders were the result of an anti-Muslim video. That turned out to be false. It was a pre-planned terrorist attack. In her testimony, Clinton pulled no punches.
CLINTON: We didn't know that. With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because they had protests, or because guys out for a walk and they decided to kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything question to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.
MCFADDEN: And today, she doubled down. It seemed as though you lost your temper at the hearing.
CLINTON: When someone tries to put it into a partisan lens, when they focus not on the fact that we had such a terrible event happening with four dead Americans, but instead, what did somebody say on a sunday morning talk show? That to me is not in keeping with the seriousness of the issue and the obligation we all have as public servants.
MCFADDEN: But do you regret "what difference at this point does it make?"
CLINTON: No, because I think that asking questions about talking points for a Sunday morning talk show, is really missing the point. I believe in transparency. I said let the chips fall where they may. Put it all out there. And I don't want that to be politicized.
MCFADDEN: So you stand by what you said?