By Anita Kumar and Lesley Clark
McClatchy Washington Bureau.
Hillary Clinton embarked on a cross-country book tour Tuesday designed to kick off a potential run for the White House, but she found herself backpedaling on remarks that critics say show she’s out of touch with average Americans.
Clinton told ABC News that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, struggled financially after leaving the White House in 2001, though she reportedly signed an $8 million book deal around that time and later earned millions of dollars for her speeches.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told Diane Sawyer in an interview Monday to promote “Hard Choices,” her newest book. “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. You know, it was not easy.”
By Tuesday, after a backlash, Clinton was forced to explain her comments.
“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.” “Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we continue to work hard, and we’ve been blessed in the last 14 years. So for me it’s just a reality what we faced when he got out of the White House, it meant that we just had to keep working really hard.”
But some commentators already were describing the original comment as a rare misstep. And it gave Republicans an opportunity to remind Americans that Clinton revealed in a January speech that she last drove a car in 1996.
“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. “It’s clear nobody could be more out of touch than Hillary Clinton.”