Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a group of 1,100 Long Island business and political leaders Friday that she would begin seriously considering a White House run sometime next year.
In a speech to the Long Island Association at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, Clinton said a decision about a second presidential campaign would depend primarily on whether she feels intractable political issues including education, housing and health care can be solved.
"I am not going to begin to think seriously about it until sometime next year," Clinton said of a presidential run. "I will think about it because it's something on a lot of people's minds. And it's on my mind as well."
But Clinton, who lost the 2008 Democratic primary to then-Sen. Barack Obama, said the constant focus on who will run next for president is "bad for the country. Govern now. People have been elected to do a job now."
In an hourlong conversation moderated by LIA president and chief executive Kevin Law, Clinton discussed foreign affairs, the federal government shutdown and bridging the divide between Democrats and Republicans.
Clinton blamed House Republicans for the shutdown, arguing they wanted "to cause a crisis to bring attention to their priority. And their priority has been to defund and derail the Affordable Care Act."
The more appropriate tactic, she said, would be for Republicans to pass a temporary spending bill to fund the government and then have "good faith negotiations" with the White House about the health care law. Clinton said the GOP's current approach is "harmful" to the country and sends the wrong message to other nations.
During the 1995-96 federal government shutdown, she said then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich was willing to negotiate with her husband, President Bill Clinton. But the current shutdown may be more difficult to resolve because some House Republicans fear a primary from the right if they negotiate with Obama, she said.
Clinton also addressed the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and the follow-up attack on a CIA annex building that left dead four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Clinton called it "very difficult" to have American outposts in conflict areas without proper levels of security provided by the host government. She said there were "no easy answers" when deciding whether to shut down U.S. missions based on security risks.
"We need to do a better job of evaluating all of the factors and making the best decision we can," Clinton said.
Republicans have criticized Obama and Clinton for initially pinning the blame for the attack on an anti-Islamic movie and for failing to provide adequate levels of diplomatic security.