The Nigerian government has been “derelict” in its ability to protect the country’s citizens from acts of terrorism and needs to do a better job, said Hillary Clinton Wednesday during a wide-ranging discussion in New York that also covered women’s rights, the ongoing Benghazi probe, becoming a grandma, and yes, artful deflections about 2016.
Speaking with “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, the former secretary of state kicked off her appearance at a Philanthropy New York event with strong words on the kidnappings in Nigeria, where nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken three weeks ago.
“The seizure of these young women by this radical extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible,” said Clinton. “This is a problem not just in Nigeria, but Nigeria has more resources and more capacity to do more and they should be expected to.”
Clinton stressed that other nations, including the U.S., should assist with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, as an increasing portion of the African country has drifted out of government hands, but insisted that Nigerian officials need to be the ones to accept that help and do all that is necessary in bringing home their girls.
“Nigeria has made bad choices,” she later said. “They’ve squandered their oil wealth, allowed corruption to fester, and now they’re losing parts of their territory.”
The security and advancement of women around the world has been central to Clinton’s agenda, and is the focus of her “No Ceilings” project at the Clinton Foundation. Wednesday’s remarks were her first on the situation in Nigeria. She also spent much of the discussion highlighting economic opportunities, civic participation, and peace and security as areas where more work needs to be done for women’s rights – both at home, and abroad.
“When I go to young women and ask them to take something on, they ask, ‘Do you think I’m ready for that,” said Clinton of her experience with hiring young people. “I’ve never had a man say that to me.” Businesses need to actively “enlist” women, she stressed.
Clinton also had tough words for lawmakers out to find the missing link between the 2012 Benghazi siege and a White House coverup. Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, during a planned, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate. In the immediate aftermath, however, the Obama administration incorrectly attributed the attack to a spontaneous uprising ignited by an Internet video that angered Muslims. Despite a Senate Intelligence Committee report and an independent review board that cleared the White House of any foul play, some conservatives are holding onto conspiracy theories – likely to disrupt Clinton’s road to the Oval Office, if that is indeed the direction she’s heading.
“There are a lot of reasons why despite all of the hearings and all information provided, some choose not to be satisfied,” said Clinton on Wednesday. “That’s their choice and I don’t believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way, but they get to call the shots rights now in the Congress.”
Notably absent from Wednesday’s discussion was any mention of Monica Lewinksy, the former presidential intern who reemerged Tuesday with a Vanity Fair piece, in which she said that Bill Clinton “took advantage” of her. Lewinsky could potentially return as another point of attack against the former secretary of state should she throw her hat into the 2016 ring.
On the topic of 2016, one of the lighter moments came during a viewer question, which Roberts read, that asked whether Clinton would consider Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Houston Mayor Julian Castro as her running mate, should she choose to run.
“Aside from never answering hypotheticals,” she said, as laughter broke out. “I’ve been asked this question many different ways, this was one of the cleverest – [Warren and Castro] are both extraordinary leaders and great political advocates for a lot of what needs to be done in our country, and I admire them greatly.”
Clinton was also all smiles when the topic turned to her future grandchild.
“I want to do as much as I can in whatever position I’m in to try to keep raising awareness and finding solutions to the problems that stand in the way of a child being able to develop to the fullest of his or her potential.”