ENG: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is an American politician who was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, serving under President Barack Obama. She was previously a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of President Bill Clinton, she was also the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
A native of Illinois, Hillary Rodham first attracted national attention in 1969 for her remarks as the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She embarked on a career in law after receiving her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1973.
Following a stint as a Congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas in 1974 and married Bill Clinton in 1975. Rodham cofounded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978. Named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979, she was twice listed as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. As First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992 with husband Bill as governor, she successfully led a task force to reform Arkansas's education system. During that time, she was a member of the board of directors of Wal-Mart Stores and several other corporations.
In 1994, as First Lady of the United States, her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan, failed to gain approval from the U.S.
Congress. However, in 1997 and 1999, Clinton played a role in advocating the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. Her years as First Lady drew a polarized response from the American public. The only First Lady to have been subpoenaed, she testified before a federal grand jury in 1996 due to the Whitewater controversy, but was never charged with wrongdoing in this or several other investigations during her husband's administration. The state of her marriage was the subject of considerable speculation following the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
After moving to the state of New York, Clinton was elected as a U.S.
Senator in 2000. That election marked the first time an American First Lady had run for public office; Clinton was also the first female senator to represent the state. In the Senate, she initially supported the Bush administration on some foreign policy issues, including a vote for the Iraq War Resolution. She subsequently opposed the administration on its conduct of the war in Iraq and on most domestic issues. Senator Clinton was reelected by a wide margin in 2006. In the 2008 presidential nomination race, Hillary Clinton won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history, but narrowly lost to Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
Obama went on to win the election and appoint Clinton as Secretary of State; she became the first former First Lady to serve in a president's cabinet. She was at the forefront of the U.S. response to the Arab Spring, including advocating the military intervention in Libya. Clinton introduced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process to the State Department, seeking to maximize departmental effectiveness and promote the empowerment of women worldwide, and used "smart power" as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values in the world.
She is the most widely traveled secretary during her time in office and also championed the use of social media in getting the U.S. message out.
Hillary Diane Rodham was born at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She was raised in a United Methodist family, first in Chicago and then, from the age of three, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois. Her father, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham (1911–1993), was of Welsh and English descent; he managed a successful small business in the textile industry. Her mother, Dorothy Emma Howell (1919–2011), was a homemaker of English, Scottish, French Canadian, French, and Welsh descent. Hillary grew up with two younger brothers, Hugh and Tony.
As a child, Hillary Rodham was a teacher's favorite at her public schools in Park Ridge. She participated in swimming, baseball, and other sports. She also earned numerous awards as a Brownie and Girl Scout. She attended Maine East High School, where she participated in student council, the school newspaper, and was selected for National Honor Society. For her senior year, she was redistricted to Maine South High School, where she was a National Merit Finalist and graduated in the top five percent of her class of 1965. Her mother wanted her to have an independent, professional career, and her father, otherwise a traditionalist, was of the opinion that his daughter's abilities and opportunities should not be limited by gender.
Raised in a politically conservative household, at age thirteen Rodham helped canvass South Side Chicago following the very close 1960 U.S. presidential election, where she found evidence of electoral fraud against Republican candidate Richard Nixon. She then volunteered to campaign for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the U.S. presidential election of 1964. Rodham's early political development was shaped most by her high school history teacher (like her father, a fervent anticommunist), who introduced her to Goldwater's classic The Conscience of a Conservative, and by her Methodist youth minister (like her mother, concerned with issues of social justice), with whom she saw and met civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., in Chicago in 1962.
First Lady of the United States - Role as First Lady
When Bill Clinton took office as president in January 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the First Lady of the United States, and announced that she would be using that form of her name. She was the first First Lady to hold a postgraduate degree and to have her own professional career up to the time of entering the White House. She was also the first to have an office in the West Wing of the White House in addition to the usual First Lady offices in the East Wing. She was part of the innermost circle vetting appointments to the new administration, and her choices filled at least eleven top-level positions and dozens more lower-level ones. She is regarded as the most openly empowered presidential wife in American history, save for Eleanor Roosevelt.
Some critics called it inappropriate for the First Lady to play a central role in matters of public policy. Supporters pointed out that Clinton's role in policy was no different from that of other White House advisors and that voters were well aware that she would play an active role in her husband's presidency. Bill Clinton's campaign promise of "two for the price of one" led opponents to refer derisively to the Clintons as "co-presidents", or sometimes the Arkansas label "Billary". The pressures of conflicting ideas about the role of a First Lady were enough to send Clinton into "imaginary discussions" with the also-politically-active Eleanor Roosevelt. From the time she came to Washington, she also found refuge in a prayer group of The Fellowship that featured many wives of conservative Washington figures. Triggered in part by the death of her father in April 1993, she publicly sought to find a synthesis of Methodist teachings, liberal religious political philosophy, and Tikkun editor Michael Lerner's "politics of meaning" to overcome what she saw as America's "sleeping sickness of the soul" and that would lead to a willingness "to remold society by redefining what it means to be a human being in the twentieth century, moving into a new millennium." Other segments of the public focused on her appearance, which had evolved over time from inattention to fashion during her days in Arkansas, to a popular site in the early days of the World Wide Web devoted to showing her many different, and frequently analyzed, hairstyles as First Lady, to an appearance on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1998.
Senate election of 2000
When New York's long-serving United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced his retirement in November 1998, several prominent Democratic figures, including Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, urged Clinton to run for Moynihan's open seat in the United States Senate election of 2000. Once she decided to run, the Clintons purchased a home in Chappaqua, New York, north of New York City, in September 1999. She became the first First Lady of the United States to be a candidate for elected office. Initially, Clinton expected to face Rudy Giuliani, the Mayor of New York City, as her Republican opponent in the election. However, Giuliani withdrew from the race in May 2000 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and having developments in his personal life become very public, and Clinton instead faced Rick Lazio, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives representing New York's 2nd congressional district. Throughout the campaign, opponents accused Clinton of carpetbagging, as she had never resided in New York nor participated in the state's politics before this race. Clinton began her campaign by visiting every county in the state, in a "listening tour" of small-group settings. During the campaign, she devoted considerable time in traditionally Republican Upstate New York regions. Clinton vowed to improve the economic situation in those areas, promising to deliver 200,000 jobs to the state over her term. Her plan included tax credits to reward job creation and encourage business investment, especially in the high-tech sector. She called for personal tax cuts for college tuition and long-term care.
The contest drew national attention. Lazio blundered during a September debate by seeming to invade Clinton's personal space trying to get her to sign a fundraising agreement. The campaigns of Clinton and Lazio, along with Giuliani's initial effort, spent a record combined $90 million. Clinton won the election on November 7, 2000, with 55 percent of the vote to Lazio's 43 percent. She was sworn in as United States Senator on January 3, 2001.
United States Senator - First term
Upon entering the Senate, Clinton maintained a low public profile and built relationships with senators from both parties. She forged alliances with religiously inclined senators by becoming a regular participant in the Senate Prayer Breakfast.
Clinton served on five Senate committees: Committee on Budget (2001–2002), Committee on Armed Services (since 2003), Committee on Environment and Public Works (since 2001), Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (since 2001) and Special Committee on Aging. She was also a Commissioner of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (since 2001).
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, Clinton sought to obtain funding for the recovery efforts in New York City and security improvements in her state. Working with New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer, she was instrumental in quickly securing $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center site's redevelopment. She subsequently took a leading role in investigating the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders. Clinton voted for the USA Patriot Act in October 2001. In 2005, when the act was up for renewal, she worked to address some of the civil liberties concerns with it, before voting in favor of a compromise renewed act in March 2006 that gained large majority support.
Clinton strongly supported the 2001 U.S. military action in Afghanistan, saying it was a chance to combat terrorism while improving the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government. Clinton voted in favor of the October 2002 Iraq War Resolution, which authorized United States President George W. Bush to use military force against Iraq, should such action be required to enforce a United Nations Security Council Resolution after pursuing with diplomatic efforts.
After the Iraq War began, Clinton made trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit American troops stationed there. On a visit to Iraq in February 2005, Clinton noted that the insurgency had failed to disrupt the democratic elections held earlier, and that parts of the country were functioning well. Noting that war deployments were draining regular and reserve forces, she cointroduced legislation to increase the size of the regular United States Army by 80,000 soldiers to ease the strain. In late 2005, Clinton said that while immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake, Bush's pledge to stay "until the job is done" was also misguided, as it gave Iraqis "an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves." Her stance caused frustration among those in the Democratic Party who favored immediate withdrawal. Clinton supported retaining and improving health benefits for veterans, and lobbied against the closure of several military bases.
Senator Clinton voted against President Bush's two major tax cut packages, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Clinton voted against the 2005 confirmation of John G. Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States and the 2006 confirmation of Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court.
In 2005, Clinton called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how hidden sex scenes showed up in the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Along with Senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, she introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, intended to protect children from inappropriate content found in video games. In 2004 and 2006, Clinton voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment that sought to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Looking to establish a "progressive infrastructure" to rival that of American conservatism, Clinton played a formative role in conversations that led to the 2003 founding of former Clinton administration chief of staff John Podesta's Center for American Progress, shared aides with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, founded in 2003, and advised the Clintons' former antagonist David Brock's Media Matters for America, created in 2004. Following the 2004 Senate elections, she successfully pushed new Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid to create a Senate war room to handle daily political messaging.
Reelection campaign of 2006
In November 2004, Clinton announced that she would seek a second Senate term. The early frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, withdrew from the contest after several months of poor campaign performance. Clinton easily won the Democratic nomination over opposition from antiwar activist Jonathan Tasini. Clinton's eventual opponents in the general election were Republican candidate John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, along with several third-party candidates. She won the election on November 7, 2006, with 67 percent of the vote to Spencer's 31 percent, carrying all but four of New York's sixty-two counties. Clinton spent $36 million for her reelection, more than any other candidate for Senate in the 2006 elections did. Some Democrats criticized her for spending too much in a one-sided contest, while some supporters were concerned she did not leave more funds for a potential presidential bid in 2008. In the following months, she transferred $10 million of her Senate funds toward her presidential campaign.
Senator Clinton listens as Chief of Naval Operations Navy Admiral Mike Mullen responds to a question during his 2007 confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Clinton opposed the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. In March 2007, she voted in favor of a war-spending bill that required President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by a deadline; it passed almost completely along party lines but was subsequently vetoed by President Bush. In May 2007, a compromise war funding bill that removed withdrawal deadlines but tied funding to progress benchmarks for the Iraqi government passed the Senate by a vote of 80–14 and would be signed by Bush; Clinton was one of those who voted against it. Clinton responded to General David Petraeus's September 2007 Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq by saying, "I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief."
In March 2007, in response to the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy, Clinton called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. In May and June 2007, regarding the high-profile, hotly debated comprehensive immigration reform bill known as the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, Clinton cast several votes in support of the bill, which eventually failed to gain cloture.
As the financial crisis of 2007–2008 reached a peak with the liquidity crisis of September 2008, Clinton supported the proposed bailout of United States financial system, voting in favor of the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, saying that it represented the interests of the American people. It passed the Senate 74–25.
Presidential campaign of 2008
Clinton had been preparing for a potential candidacy for United States President since at least early 2003. On January 20, 2007, Clinton announced via her web site the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the United States presidential election of 2008; she stated, "I'm in, and I'm in to win." No woman had ever been nominated by a major party for President of the United States. When Bill Clinton became president in 1993, a blind trust was established; in April 2007 the Clintons liquidated the blind trust to avoid the possibility of ethical conflicts or political embarrassments as Hillary Clinton undertook her presidential race. Later disclosure statements revealed that the couple's worth was now upwards of $50 million, and that they had earned over $100 million since 2000, with most of it coming from Bill Clinton's books, speaking engagements, and other activities.
Clinton led candidates competing for the Democratic presidential nomination in opinion polls for the election throughout the first half of 2007. Most polls placed Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina as Clinton's closest competitors. Clinton and Obama both set records for early fundraising, swapping the money lead each quarter. By September 2007, polling in the first six states holding Democratic primaries or caucuses showed that Clinton was leading in all of them, with the races being closest in Iowa and South Carolina. By the following month, national polls showed Clinton far ahead of Democratic competitors. At the end of October, Clinton suffered a rare poor debate performance against Obama, Edwards, and her other opponents. Obama's message of change began to resonate with the Democratic electorate better than Clinton's message of experience. The race tightened considerably, especially in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, with Clinton losing her lead in some polls by December.
In the first vote of 2008, she placed third in the January 3 Iowa Democratic caucus to Obama and Edwards. Obama gained ground in national polling in the next few days, with all polls predicting a victory for him in the New Hampshire primary. However, Clinton gained a surprise win there on January 8, defeating Obama narrowly. Explanations for her New Hampshire comeback varied but often centered on her being seen more sympathetically, especially by women, after her eyes welled with tears and her voice broke while responding to a voter's question the day before the election.
The nature of the contest fractured in the next few days. Several remarks by Bill Clinton and other surrogates, and a remark by Hillary Clinton concerning Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson, were perceived by many as, accidentally or intentionally, limiting Obama as a racially oriented candidate or otherwise denying the post-racial significance and accomplishments of his campaign. Despite attempts by both Hillary Clinton and Obama to downplay the issue, Democratic voting became more polarized as a result, with Clinton losing much of her support among African Americans. She lost by a two-to-one margin to Obama in the January 26 South Carolina primary, setting up, with Edwards soon dropping out, an intense two-person contest for the twenty-two February 5 Super Tuesday states. Bill Clinton had made more statements attracting criticism for their perceived racial implications late in the South Carolina campaign, and his role was seen as damaging enough to her that a wave of supporters within and outside of the campaign said the former President "needs to stop."
On Super Tuesday, Clinton won the largest states, such as California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, while Obama won more states; they almost evenly split the total popular vote. But Obama was gaining more pledged delegates for his share of the popular vote due to better exploitation of the Democratic proportional allocation rules.
The Clinton campaign had counted on winning the nomination by Super Tuesday, and was unprepared financially and logistically for a prolonged effort; lagging in Internet fundraising, Clinton began loaning her campaign money. There was continuous turmoil within the campaign staff and she made several top-level personnel changes. Obama won the next eleven February caucuses and primaries across the country, often by large margins, and took a significant pledged delegate lead over Clinton. On March 4, Clinton broke the string of losses by winning in Ohio among other places, where her criticism of NAFTA, a major legacy of her husband's presidency, had been a key issue. Throughout the campaign, Obama dominated caucuses, which the Clinton campaign largely ignored organizing for. Obama did well in primaries where African Americans or younger, college-educated, or more affluent voters were heavily represented; Clinton did well in primaries where Hispanics or older, non-college-educated, or working-class white voters predominated. Some Democratic party leaders expressed concern that the drawn-out campaign between the two could damage the winner in the general election contest against Republican presumptive nominee John McCain, especially if an eventual triumph for Clinton was won via party-appointed superdelegates.
Clinton's admission in late March, that her repeated campaign statements about having been under hostile fire from snipers during a 1996 visit to U.S. troops at Tuzla Air Base in Bosnia-Herzegovina were not true, attracted considerable media attention and risked undermining both her credibility and her claims of foreign policy expertise as First Lady.
On April 22, she won the Pennsylvania primary, and kept her campaign alive. However, on May 6, a narrower-than-expected win in the Indiana primary coupled with a large loss in the North Carolina primary ended any realistic chance she had of winning the nomination. She vowed to stay on through the remaining primaries, but stopped attacks against Obama; as one advisor stated, "She could accept losing. She could not accept quitting." She won some of the remaining contests, and indeed, over the last three months of the campaign she won more delegates, states, and votes than Obama, but she failed to overcome Obama's lead.
Following the final primaries on June 3, 2008, Obama had gained enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee. In a speech before her supporters on June 7, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama, declaring, "The way to continue our fight now to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama." By campaign's end, Clinton had won 1,640 pledged delegates to Obama's 1,763; at the time of the clinching, Clinton had 286 superdelegates to Obama's 395, with those numbers widening to 256 versus 438 once Obama was acknowledged the winner. Clinton and Obama each received over 17 million votes during the nomination process, with both breaking the previous record. Clinton also eclipsed, by a very large margin, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's 1972 mark for most primaries and delegates won by a woman. Clinton gave a passionate speech supporting Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and campaigned frequently for him in Fall 2008, which concluded with his victory over McCain in the general election on November 4. Clinton's campaign ended up severely in debt; she owed millions of dollars to outside vendors and wrote off the $13 million that she lent it herself. With some fundraising help from the Obama administration and its supporters, the debt was finally paid off in early 2013.
Secretary of State
In mid-November 2008, President-elect Obama and Clinton discussed the possibility of her serving as U.S. Secretary of State in his administration. She was initially quite reluctant, but by November 21, reports indicated that she had accepted the position. On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Clinton would be his nominee for Secretary of State. Clinton said she did not want to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a "difficult and exciting adventure". As part of the nomination and in order to relieve concerns of conflict of interest, Bill Clinton agreed to accept several conditions and restrictions regarding his ongoing activities and fundraising efforts for the Clinton Presidential Center and Clinton Global Initiative.
The appointment required a Saxbe fix, passed and signed into law in December 2008. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began on January 13, 2009, a week before the Obama inauguration; two days later, the Committee voted 16–1 to approve Clinton. By this time, her public approval rating had reached 65 percent, the highest point since the Lewinsky scandal. On January 21, 2009, Clinton was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94–2. Clinton took the oath of office of Secretary of State and resigned from the Senate that same day. She became the first former First Lady to serve in the United States Cabinet.
Clinton spent her initial days as Secretary of State telephoning dozens of world leaders and indicating that U.S. foreign policy would change direction: "We have a lot of damage to repair." She advocated an expanded role in global economic issues for the State Department and cited the need for an increased U.S. diplomatic presence, especially in Iraq where the Defense Department had conducted diplomatic missions. She pushed for a larger international affairs budget; the Obama administration's proposed 2010 budget contained a 7 percent increase for the State Department and other international programs. In March 2009, Clinton prevailed over Vice President Joe Biden on an internal debate to send an additional 21,000 troops to the war in Afghanistan.
Clinton announced the most ambitious of her departmental reforms, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which establishes specific objectives for the State Department's diplomatic missions abroad; it is modeled after a similar process in the Defense Department that she was familiar with from her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee. (The first such review was issued in late 2010 and called for the U.S. leading through "civilian power" as a cost-effective way of responding to international challenges and defusing crises. It also sought to institutionalize goals of empowering women throughout the world.) In September, Clinton unveiled the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative at the annual meeting of her husband's Clinton Global Initiative. The new initiative seeks to battle hunger worldwide as a strategic part of U.S. foreign policy, rather than just react to food shortage emergencies as they occur, and emphasizes the role of women farmers. Another cause Clinton advocated throughout her tenure was the adoption of cookstoves in the developing world, to foster cleaner and more environmentally sound food preparation and reduce smoke dangers to women. In October, on a trip to Switzerland, Clinton's intervention overcame last-minute snags and saved the signing of an historic Turkish–Armenian accord that established diplomatic relations and opened the border between the two long-hostile nations. In Pakistan, she engaged in several unusually blunt discussions with students, talk show hosts, and tribal elders, in an attempt to repair the Pakistani image of the U.S.
In a major speech in January 2010, Clinton drew analogies between the Iron Curtain and the free and unfree Internet. Chinese officials reacted negatively towards it, and it garnered attention as the first time a senior American official had clearly defined the Internet as a key element of American foreign policy. By mid-2010, Clinton and Obama had forged a good working relationship without power struggles; she was a team player within the administration and a defender of it to the outside, and was careful that neither she nor her husband would upstage him. The Obama national security team as a whole featured much less discord than in previous administrations. She met with him weekly, but did not have the close, daily relationship that some of her predecessors had had with their presidents; nevertheless, he had trust in her actions. In July 2010, Secretary Clinton visited Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all the while preparing for the July 31 wedding of daughter Chelsea amid much media attention. In late November 2010, Clinton led the U.S. damage control effort after WikiLeaks released confidential State Department cables containing blunt statements and assessments by U.S. and foreign diplomats. A few of the cables released by WikiLeaks concerned Clinton directly: they revealed that directions to members of the foreign service, written by the CIA, had gone out in 2009 under her (systematically attached) name to gather biometric and other personal details on foreign diplomats, including officials of the United Nations and U.S. allies.
The 2011 Egyptian protests posed the biggest foreign policy crisis for the administration yet. Clinton was in the forefront of U.S. public response to it, quickly evolving from an early assessment that the government of Hosni Mubarak was "stable" to a stance that there needed to be an "orderly transition [to] a democratic participatory government" to a condemnation of violence against the protesters. Obama also came to rely upon Clinton's advice, organization, and personal connections in the behind-the-scenes response to developments. As Arab Spring protests spread throughout the region, Clinton was at the forefront of a U.S. response that she recognized was sometimes contradictory, backing some regimes while supporting protesters against others. As the Libyan civil war took place, Clinton's shift in favor of military intervention was a key turning point in overcoming internal administration opposition and gaining the backing for, and Arab and U.N. approval of, the 2011 military intervention in Libya. She later used U.S. allies and what she called "convening power" to help keep the Libyan rebels unified as they eventually overthrew the Gaddafi regime. Following the successful May 2011 U.S. mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Clinton played a key role in the administration's decision not to release photographs of the dead al-Qaeda leader. In a December 2011 speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council, she said that the U.S. would advocate for gay rights abroad and that "Gay rights are human rights" and that "It should never be a crime to be gay." The same month saw her conclude the first visit to Burma by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955, as she met with Burmese leaders as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sought to support the 2011 Burmese democratic reforms.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton honor the Benghazi attack victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base on September 14, 2012.
On September 11, 2012, an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi took place, resulting in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The attack, and questions surrounding the U.S. Government's preparedness for it and varying explanations afterward for what had happened, became politically controversial in the U.S. On October 15, Clinton said that regarding the question of preparedness, she took responsibility, while the differing explanations were due to the inevitable fog of war confusion after events like this. On December 19, a panel led by Thomas R. Pickering and Michael Mullen issued its report on the matter. It was sharply critical of State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades, and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment. It focused its criticism on the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and four State Department officials at the assistant secretary level and below were removed from their posts as a consequence. Clinton said she accepted the conclusions of the report and that charges were underway to implement its suggested changes. Clinton gave Congressional testimony on the Benghazi attack on January 23, 2013. She actively defended her actions in response to the incident and, while still accepting formal responsibility, said she had had no direct role in specific discussions beforehand regarding consulate security. Congressional Republicans challenged her on several points, sometimes triggering emotional or angry responses from her.
In December 2012, Clinton was hospitalized for a few days for treatment of a blood clot in her right transverse venous sinus, a vein within the head that allows blood to drain from the brain. Her doctors had discovered the clot during a follow-up examination for a concussion she had sustained when she had fainted and fallen nearly three weeks earlier, after developing severe dehydration from a viral intestinal ailment acquired during a trip to Europe. The clot, which caused no immediate neurological injury, was being treated with anticoagulant medication and her doctors said she was expected to make a full recovery.
Throughout her tenure, and in her final speech concluding it, Clinton looked towards "smart power" as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values, combining military strength with U.S. capacities in global economics, development aid, technology, creativity, and human rights advocacy. She also greatly expanded the State Department's use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, both to get its message out and to help empower people vis-à-vis their rulers. And in the Mideast turmoil, Clinton particularly saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of her tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide. Moreover, she viewed women's rights and human rights as critical for U.S. security interests. Clinton visited 112 countries during her tenure, making her the most widely traveled secretary of state (Time magazine wrote that "Clinton's endurance is legendary"). The first secretary of state to visit countries such as Togo and Timor-Leste, she believed that in-person visits were more important than ever in the virtual age. As early as March 2011, she indicated she was not interested in serving a second term as Secretary of State should Obama be re-elected in 2012; in December 2012, following that re-election, Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to be Clinton's successor. Her last day as Secretary of State was February 1, 2013.
Clinton left the State Department without firm plans for the future, although she indicated she would rest, write another volume of memoirs, and work for causes she cares about. While she has long indicated she has no interest in running for president again, she left office with very high approval ratings, and polls indicated her the overwhelming favorite among Democrats for the 2016 presidential election. Upon leaving office, Clinton said she was "not inclined" to stage another presidential run; speculation regarding it continued.