Hillary Clinton has apologised for using a private email account when she was secretary of state, in her latest attempt to defuse a public relations problem that is taking a toll on her campaign for the White House.
After months of saying that she regretted using a private email address while insisting that she had done nothing wrong, Mrs Clinton said she was “sorry”.
That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” Mrs Clinton told ABC News on Tuesday. “I am trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.”
Her apology comes as polls show sinking support for her candidacy, which has fuelled speculation that Joe Biden, the vice-president, will decide to enter the 2016 race for the White House.
Mrs Clinton was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination when she launched her second campaign, but her handling of the email issue has dented support. A new poll from Monmouth University found that 42 per cent of Democrats back her candidacy, a big drop from several months ago.
According to the poll, 20 per cent of Democrats support Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, while 22 per cent back Mr Biden even though he has not said whether he will run. The falling poll numbers have sparked concern in the Clinton camp — and among some donors — that her refusal to recognise the gravity of the email issue is fuelling a perception that she sees herself as being subject to different rules.
Mrs Clinton has been dogged by questions about the private email account and an unencrypted server in her home since it emerged in March that she had conducted her personal and official correspondence as secretary of state over the same account. The scandal recently took a new twist after it emerged that the FBI was probing whether classified information was mishandled in connection with the account.
The only thing Hillary Clinton regrets is that she got caught and is dropping in the polls, not the fact her secret email server left classified information exposed to the Russians and Chinese
– Allison Moore, Republican National Committee
The former New York senator has insisted that she did not send or receive information that was marked classified at the time of transmittal. However, the discovery of emails that were later deemed to be secret has intensified questions about why she used an unencrypted server in her home.
She has also faced scrutiny about her decision to delete tens of thousands of emails that she deemed to be private, before she handed her emails over to the state department, which is now complying with a court order to release all her email correspondence before January. Last month she gave the server to the FBI, which may be able to retrieve the deleted messages, experts say.
While some Democratic supporters have expressed frustration at the way Mrs Clinton has handled the email issue, Republicans have called into question her competency to serve as commander-in-chief.
“The only thing Hillary Clinton regrets is that she got caught and is dropping in the polls, not the fact her secret email server left classified information exposed to the Russians and Chinese,” said Allison Moore, press secretary for the Republican National Committee. “Hillary Clinton’s reckless attempt to skirt government transparency laws put our national security at risk and shows she cannot be trusted in the White House.”
The apology over the email issue comes as the New York Times reports that Mrs Clinton plans another campaign reboot that will involve showing more humour on the trail. The move to show that Mrs Clinton is more authentic than she appears in public sparked ridicule from some quarters.
David Axelrod, the former chief strategist for President Barack Obama, tweeted that the New York Times story “read more like The Onion”.
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