Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clinton vows to stay into second Obama term

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she planned to stay on as secretary of state into US President Barack Obama's second term, presuming he wins re-election, to help with the transition.

"I will stay until the beginning of the next term because I know it takes a while for people to get appointed and confirmed," Clinton told ABC News in an interview.

"There needs to be a seamless transition with whomever President Obama decides to appoint after he is re-elected, which I am confident he will be," she said.

Obama selected Clinton, 63, to be his administration's top diplomat after defeating her in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

The former first lady told CNN last week that she has "no intention" of running again for the presidency. Her husband Bill Clinton was president from 1993-2001.

Clinton is the only former first lady in US history to be elected to the US Senate. She represented the state of New York from January 2001 to January 2009.

Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, told CNN that she had "a wonderful experience" in her 2008 presidential campaign and was "very proud of the support I had and very grateful for the opportunity, but I'm going to be, you know, moving on."

Her legacy as secretary of state could be shaped by the outcome of the United Nations-backed military strikes in Libya, aimed at protecting civilians from forces loyal to strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Clinton is widely reported to have been a strong advocate of the strikes. She helped shepherd through the UN Security Council a resolution imposing a no-fly zone, and she noted the "unprecedented" support of the Arab League.

In the interview with ABC, Clinton said she was "not going to characterize anybody's opinion" from inside the administration, regarding who was for or against the military strikes.

Clinton alluded to the many dramatic events in recent months, such as Arab uprisings and the Japanese earthquake.

"I do wake up and feel increasingly that we are living in a historic turning point on so many fronts, and that our country and the world has some hard thinking to do that needs to lead to transformational action. I don't think the old answers are good enough," she said in the ABC interview.

"And I just want to see the United States assume the role that we have historically assumed, which is that we are the people of the future, we are the ones who are innovating our ways and building our ways into a much better, more prosperous, peaceful future," she said.

"But it's going to take a lot of hard work, and our political system and the political systems of so many other countries have to be prepared to make some tough decisions."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Romney Says Obama Is Vulnerable on Economy

Mitt Romney was pretty clear over the weekend that he believes the best way for Republicans to defeat President Obama in 2012 is to focus on the economy. That’s not how he saw things in the fall before the midterm elections.

In a speech in Los Angeles in September, Mr. Romney suggested that the president would be “difficult to beat” in 2012 because of an improving economy. If Mr. Obama was vulnerable, he predicted, it would be because of a perception among some that he does not share the values of the American people.

“He will do everything he can to get the economy going back again, and most likely — at least in my view — the economy will be coming back,” Mr. Romney said at the time. “They will take credit for the fact that things are getting better. That will help the president’s re-election effort.”

Speaking to about 300 people at a New Hampshire hotel on Saturday night, however, Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a likely Republican candidate for president, said that Mr. Obama not only “doesn’t have a clue how jobs are created,” but also made the economic crisis worse.

“The consequence is soaring numbers of Americans enduring unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies,” Mr. Romney said. “This is the Obama Misery Index, and we’re not going to let the American people be fooled.”

In fact, the economy has improved, which makes Mr. Romney’s change in sentiment curious. In September, when he thought Mr. Obama was in good shape, the economy lost 95,000 jobs. In February, the economy gained 192,000 jobs, but Mr. Romney now sees the president as being vulnerable on the issue.

Mr. Romney’s rivals in the Republican party are sure to note the shift and to suggest it reinforces questions about whether he changes positions too easily. Asked about the different assessments, a spokesman for Mr. Romney reiterated the current message.

“President Obama is vulnerable on a number of fronts, but his Achilles’ heel is jobs and the economy,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, the spokesman. “The economy will come back eventually. None of us knows for certain when that will happen, but Mitt Romney believes President Obama through his actions has deepened and prolonged the recession.”