Hillary Clinton is insisting once again that she doesn’t know if she’s running for president in 2016. But that’s not stopping her from acting like it.
The former secretary of state delivered the keynote address at the annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in New Orleans on Monday. She used the giant platform to applaud auto dealers for playing a major role in the U.S. economic recovery, and to not so subtly remind the audience that she supported both the auto bailout and the TARP program designed to prevent the failure of large banks.
During a Q&A portion, Clinton was asked about her 2016 plans, to which she said “I don’t know—not a very satisfactory answer I know.” She added, “We have a lot of issues right now that need to be dealt with…I’m not thinking about it. I’m trying to get other people not to think about it. I will think about it in the future sometime, but right now let’s think about what we havet o do to continue building on our success”
But the momentum certainly seems to be building. “Ready for Hillary,” the independent super PAC that’s working on building a national grass-roots support network for Clinton should she decide to run, held five events in Iowa on Saturday. The former first lady also graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine, with her face depicted as a planet and the piece describing the “gravitational pull of a possible 2016 campaign.”
The paid speech in front of the auto association, which represents more than 16,000 new car and truck dealerships around the country, was not without controversy. When it was announced last summer that Clinton would headline the event, several members threatened to quit the organization because of her political views and speaking fees, which rumored upward of $200,000. It was not disclosed how much Clinton was paid, but several presidents, including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush have given speeches to NADA.
During her opening remarks, Clinton discussed her family’s love of cars, noting that her first car was a a1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass she bought for $220. Her second car was a Fiat, which was stolen, crashed and totaled. She said one of her biggest regrets of public life is that “I can’t drive anymore,” noting the last time she drove a car by herself was in 1996. She joked: “I remember it very well. Unfortunately, so does the Secret Service, which is why I haven’t driven since then.”
Clinton also revealed that her biggest regret from her time as secretary of state was the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Some Republicans have continually tried to suggest the White House officials were somehow involved in a cover up. Clinton, during a heated testimony in January 2013, took responsibility for not adequately protecting U.S. personnel. But she insisted the Obama administration did not try to mislead the American people.
Clinton, at NADA, called the attack a “terrible tragedy” and “a great loss.”