President Barack Obama considers former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “very close friend” and appreciated her calling him Tuesday after critical comments she made about his foreign policy garnered huge attention.
“The president indeed appreciated Secretary Clinton's call, as he does every opportunity to chat with the former secretary of state,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters Wednesday.
In a blunt interview in The Atlantic, Clinton dismissed Obama’s foreign policy as focusing on avoiding mistakes overseas that could lead to military involvement.
“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Clinton told interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg, referring to a phrase Obama has used to describe his resistance to intervention.
The comments are her strongest to date against Obama, who faces a series of global crises while suffering from low approval ratings, especially on foreign policy.
Schultz declined to say whether Obama was angered by the comments, saying “we are looking onwards and upwards.”
“Secretary Clinton was the president's partner for four years in managing a wide array of complicated foreign policy situations,” Schultz said. “They continue to agree on a broad majority of issues confronting our country, even if they have the occasional policy difference. The president appreciates her counsel and advice. But, more importantly, he appreciates her friendship.”
Obama resists pressure to intervene militarily unless U.S. interests are at risk or Americans are threatened, placing his emphasis instead on training and supporting foreign governments or entities to tackle their own problems. But Clinton is more aggressive, believing the United States can and should play a more muscular role in the world.
Since leaving the White House more than 18 months ago, Obama and Clinton have been in touch regularly in person and over the phone.
“He definitely values her opinion and he -- they definitely both talk when they see each other,” Schultz said. “They talk socially and they catch up on each other's personal lives, but I am sure they talk about the pressing issues of the day as well.”
Obama and Clinton will see each other Wednesday night on Martha’s Vineyard, where will attend a party at the home of Vernon Jordan, an adviser to former President Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said she looked forward to “hugging it out” when they see each other.
But reporters won’t see the hug.
“I believe the president and Secretary Clinton have had many hugs over the past few years,” Schultz told reporters. “I suspect many of them have been caught on camera....I do think this is a private social gathering for someone's birthday, so it's gonna be hard to bring all of you lovely people in.”