Hillary’s first interview since leaving the State Department

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Via Joe Hagan for New York magazine:

Clinton has taken a press hiatus since she left the State Department in January – “I’ve been successful at avoiding you people for many months now!” she says, laughing. She is tentative and careful, tiptoeing into every question, keenly aware that the lines she speaks will be read between. In our interview, she emphasizes her ‘personal friendship’ with Obama, with whom she had developed a kind of bond of pragmatism and respect — one based on shared goals, both political and strategic. “I feel comfortable raising issues with him,” she says. “I had a very positive set of interactions, even when I disagreed, which obviously occurred, because obviously I have my own opinions, my own views.” … [M]ost of those close to the Clintons acknowledge that to succeed in the coming years, Hillary will have to absorb the lessons of 2008. Currently, it’s a topline talking point among her closest aides. “She doesn’t repeat her mistakes,” says Melanne Verveer, an aide to the First Lady who then served in the State Department as Hillary’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. “She really learns from her mistakes.” …

The problems of [the 2008] campaign were crucial to how Clinton would decide to lead the State Department. … Clinton insisted on hiring her own staff. In addition to her top aides, Huma Abedin and Philippe Reines, she enlisted … Maggie Williams, Cheryl Mills, and Verveer, who have been with her since her days in Bill Clinton’s White House. Among Hillary’s inner circle, this is viewed as a returning lineup of all-stars who were iced out of her campaign by … Patti Solis-Doyle … When she arrived, Clinton did a kind of institutional listening tour at the State Department. ‘She felt like she was too closed off from what was happening across the expanse of the [2008] campaign,’ says a close aide at the State Department … To keep things operating smoothly, she hired Tom Nides, the COO of Morgan Stanley, who’d contributed heavily to Clinton’s past campaigns. Even Nides was wary of the Clinton drama … But he reports that ‘all of the stuff did not exist at the State Department … The relationship between the State Department and the White House and the State Department and the Defense Department was probably the best it’s ever been in 50 years … No drama. And that was started by her.’ …

Hillary used her tenure at State for a more intimate purpose : to shift the balance of power in the most celebrated political marriage in American history. Bill Clinton was an overwhelming force in Hillary’s 2008 campaign … But not in the State Department. “Not a presence,” says a close State aide. … ‘It’s kind of jarring when she says “Bill,”‘ this person adds, recalling meetings with Hillary Clinton. “Well, who’s Bill? And then you realize that she’s talking about her husband. It happened so infrequently that you were kind of like, ‘Oh, THE PRESIDENT.’ Part of it, of course, was logistical. Though they spoke frequently by phone, Bill and Hillary were rarely in the same country. By chance, their paths crossed in Bogotá, where they had dinner together- then, owing to their massive entourages, returned to their respective hotels. “Love conquers all except logistics,” says an aide. “I could probably count on one hand the times she came to a meeting and either invoked his name or suggested something that Bill had said,”‘ says Nides. “I probably did it more about my wife [Virginia Moseley] telling me what to do.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.