Clinton defends family foundation from charges of favoritism
KEENE, N.H. (AP) Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed swirling questions about her family foundation Monday as little more than political attacks from Republicans eager to gain an early advantage in the 2016 presidential contest.
Clinton, campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the liberal bastion of Keene, pushed back against accusations that foreign governments that made donations to the Clintons' charity received preferential treatment from the State Department while she served in the Obama administration.
"We will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and attacks," she told reporters after a roundtable event at a wood furniture factory. "I'm ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory."
She is making her first campaign visit this year to New Hampshire, a state beloved by the Clinton family for giving both her faltering 2008 effort and her husband's struggling 1992 campaign a second wind.
She also took issue with economic views expressed by members of her own party, offering a dark assessment of a "stalled out" U.S. recovery, a judgment at odds with President Barack Obama's brighter view of what the nation has achieved on his watch.
"It's not enough just to tread water," she said.
In a traditional Democratic stand, she voiced her strong support for Social Security, a program some Republicans are eager to trim back, describing it as "not a luxury" but "a necessity."
Standing in front of wooden pallets and boxes of furniture parts, Clinton was asked by reporters about Peter Schweizer's coming book, "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich." The book argues that the Clinton family got speaking fees and donations in return for favors to various foreign interests doled out while she was secretary of state. Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 GOP candidate, said that would make people "question whether she ought to run for president."
Republicans have spent months talking about financial dealings of the Clinton Foundation to raise questions about Hillary Clinton's character. She stepped down from the organization's board within hours of announcing her campaign.
The foundation has come under scrutiny for accepting foreign contributions, including from Middle Eastern nations that deny equal rights for women. Some also are on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. Last week, the foundation revised its policy to permit donations from six U.S. allies in Europe, Australia, and North America but to bar giving from other nations. The charity supports public health, climate change and anti-poverty programs.
Clinton campaign aides and supporters moved quickly to discredit Schweizer after word of his book emerged, casting him as a Republican operative working to defeat her.
Schweizer is president of the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative organization, and has advised Republican politicians on foreign policy.
"He's cherry picked information that's been disclosed and woven a bunch of conspiracy theories about it," Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said on PBS.
Though nearly two dozen Republicans are competing for their party's nomination, the GOP candidates have largely focused their criticism on Clinton. In New Hampshire on the weekend, they mocked her campaign stops, charged her with being overly secretive and even brought up her husband's affair with a White House intern.
On Monday, she criticized her opponents for focusing so much of their attention on her.
"It is, I think, worth noting that the Republicans seem to be talking only about me," she said. "Hopefully we'll get onto the issues."
Associated Press reporter Kathleen Ronayne contributed.