Rumors of rift between Obama, Clinton silly: White House

July 18th, 2009 - 3:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama Washington, July 18 (ANI): The White House is tired of seeing stories that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not getting along.

“The notion that there’s some rift or disagreement is nothing more than silly Washington games,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday when asked about the relationship between the president and his secretary of state.

Clinton, who joined Obama’s team despite their bitter rivalry for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, has weathered several reports that her influence as chief diplomat is hampered by other foreign policy heavyweights in the administration and her own history with Obama.

Gibbs said stories about tricky relations between the former rivals were false.

“They enjoy a very close relationship,” Gibbs said.

“The Secretary of State is somebody who the president relies on greatly. She has an enormously important role in the development of and the execution of a foreign policy that changes our image in the world.”As pundits in Washington speculated Clinton was being sidelined within the Obama administration and overshadowed by the president’s recent high-profile diplomatic forays to the Middle East, Russia, Italy and Ghana, Clinton planned a week filled with events aimed at raising her public profile as chief diplomat.

“I broke my elbow, not my larynx,” Clinton quipped Thursday at the State Department.

“I have been consistently involved in the shaping and implementation of our foreign policy, and I am off to India and Thailand.”

On Thursday, Clinton embarked on her first trip overseas since breaking her elbow June 17 — bound for India, and later Thailand.

With foreign policy heavyweight Vice President Joe Biden overseeing the U.S. withdrawal and political reconciliation in Iraq, and Ambassadors Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell tasked with hot-spots Afghanistan and the Middle East respectively, it seemed to some observers that Clinton’s foreign policy portfolio and stature within the administration was diminishing, especially after losing battles appointing some ambassadors and staff.

On Wednesday, Clinton delivered a wide-ranging speech that outlined the current U.S. foreign policy agenda, addressed the hot-button issue of Iran, and defined areas of personal priority. She praised the president, but evidently sought to distinguish her contributions from his.

“President Obama has led us to think outside the usual boundaries,” she said. “He has launched a new era of engagement based on common interests, shared values and mutual respect. Going forward, capitalizing on America’s unique strengthens, we must advance those interests through partnership, and promote universal values through the power of our example and the empowerment of people.

“First, though, let me say that while the ideas that shape our foreign policy are critically important, this for me is not simply an intellectual exercise,” she added. “For over 16 years, I’ve had the chance, the privilege, really, to represent our country overseas as first lady, as a senator, and now as secretary of state.” (ANI)

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