POLITICS: Campaigns

Hillary Clinton clarifies 'dead broke' comment: I understand the struggle of the working class

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Books,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,Terry McAuliffe,2016 Elections,Campaigns,Becket Adams

After being hammered for being out-of-touch, and accused of making her first 2016 campaign gaffe, Hillary Clinton decided Tuesday to clarify her complaint that she and former President Bill Clinton were "dead broke" when they vacated the White House in 2001 and struggled to pay mortgages on their multimillion-dollar homes.

"Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today," Clinton said during a live interview on ABC’s "Good Morning America." "It’s an issue that I’ve worked on and cared about my entire adult life. Bill and I were obviously blessed, we worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we have continued to work hard."

It's true that the Clintons left the White House owing a great deal of money, at one point having to borrow cash from Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee. However, thanks in part to speaking fees, the family's debt was soon erased by 2004.

"For me, it's just a reality. What we faced when he got out of the White House meant that we had to just keep working really hard," Clinton, who hasn't driven a car since 1996, said Tuesday. "I want to use the talents and resources I have to make sure other people get the same chances."

The former secretary of state added that she and her husband at one point struggled to pay off their law school debt.

"We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans," she said. "But we also have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have."

The Clinton family has earned approximately $100 million over the last 14 years, the Washington Post reported. Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Hillary Clinton has been giving speeches at roughly $200,000 per appearance. She was also paid approximately $8 million in the late 2000s to write a memoir titled Living History. Bill Clinton was paid a reported $15 million to write a memoir titled My Life.

The family's well-known financial success prompted the original “dead broke” conversation between Hillary Clinton and ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt," Clinton told Sawyer after being asked about her speaking fees. "We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education. You know, it was not easy.”

"Bill has worked really hard — and it's been amazing to me — he's worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members,” she added.

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