February 26th, 2012

Secretary Clinton talks Afghanistan, 2012 politics with CNN’s Elise Labott

In a wide-ranging interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday from Rabat, Morocco, CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott spoke with Secretary Clinton about topics including the outrage over the Quran burnings in Afghanistan and her assessment of the 2012 presidential race. A full story by Labott is linked below, in addition to video and transcripts of highlighted excerpts.

MORE EMBEDDABLE VIDEO

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Clinton backs Obama’s Quran apology

Highlighted Excerpts from the Interview
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. IT MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: You said yesterday that President Obama will be reelected. It raised a lot of eyebrows. It’s not really the Secretary of State to say anything about an election and it seems to be kind of a campaign statement.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Well, remember the context of it. You know, I was asked whether the comments in the primary campaign, some of which have been quite inflammatory represented America. And I represent America and I know what happens in campaigns. I’ve been there done that and I know that things are said that are not going to be put into practice or policy, but I did think I needed to point that out to the audience and probably, you know, my enthusiasm for the President got a little out of hand. [LAUGHS]

LABOTT: No political juices flowing there?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I’ve tried to dampen them down. I’ve tried to have, you know, I’ve tried to have them taken out, you know, in a blood transfusion but occasionally they rear their heads.

LABOTT: Does that suggest going back in at some point?

CLINTON: No. No, it just suggests that I want what’s best for my country.

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LABOTT: President Obama’s apology has become very controversial. I mean, obvi Newt Gingrich and others have made this apology part of the campaign but other experts in Afghanistan are saying this apology sends the wrong message: It gives the Taliban an excuse to go against us, to help use our enemies against us and also a lot of these attacks that are happening to American, these horrible attacks, seem to be in retaliation for something the U.S. is taking responsibility for.

CLINTON: Well, I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would inflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan. I well remember during the eight years of President Bush’s administration, when something happened that was regrettable, unintentional, as this incident was, President Bush was quick to say, look, we are sorry about this, this is something we obviously did not mean to do. That’s all that President Obama was doing, and it was the right thing to do to have our president on record as saying this was not intentional, we deeply regret it, and now we are hoping that, you know, voices inside Afghanistan will join that of President Karzai and others in speaking out to try to calm the situation. It is deeply regrettable, but now it is out of hand and it needs to stop.