Clinton describes daylight with Obama on Egypt

BRADLEY KLAPPER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Distancing herself from some of the Obama administration’s handling of the Arab Spring, Hillary Rodham Clinton says in her upcoming book that she pushed for Hosni Mubarak to transition power to his successor but was overruled by President Barack Obama.

In her book “Hard Choices,” a copy of which was purchased by The Associated Press, Clinton describes an administration split during the frantic days of Arab protests in 2011. She includes herself among an old guard of cautious realists such as Vice President Joe Biden, national security adviser Tom Donilon and Defense Secretary Robert Gates who were at odds with a younger generation of White House aides “swept up in the drama and idealism of the moment.”

Clinton says she didn’t want the U.S. to be seen as pushing a longtime partner out without a clear picture of the future for regional allies such as Israel and Jordan.

For Clinton, highlighting the policy differences she had with Obama, however subtle, may prove crucial if she decides to run for president in 2016. Egypt is a particularly appealing example given the turbulent path it has taken since Mubarak stepped down amid violent street protests more than three years ago.

Since then, a Muslim Brotherhood-led government came to power only to be itself ousted in a military coup, the leader of which recently prevailed in an internationally criticized presidential election.

The book addresses other foreign policy challenges during Clinton’s four years as Obama’s top diplomat.

Clinton says the Obama administration made a tactical mistake, one long argued by the Jewish state and its powerful backers in Washington.

She said pushing for a freeze on the building of new Israeli homes in disputed territories hardened Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who didn’t negotiate directly with Israel for most of a 10-month construction pause because it didn’t include East Jerusalem.

When Netanyahu let the freeze expire, the talks collapsed, though she blames both sides for the failure. Abbas, she notes, ridiculed the Israel concession. But then the Palestinian demanded its extension for a continuation of negotiations with Netanyahu.

Clinton does not write about her hospitalization that followed the discovery of a blood clot and a concussion caused by a fall in December 2012. She said in an interview with ABC News, an excerpt of which aired Friday, that if she seeks the White House again she will release her medical records in the same manner of past presidential candidates.

“I would do what other candidates have done, absolutely,” she said.

Presidential candidates typically release medical records once it becomes clear they will win their party’s nomination. Clinton’s health was not an issue in her 2008 campaign and she did not release medical records during the primaries.

Clinton writes in the book that she hasn’t decided her political future.

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