VINEYARD HAVEN, MASSACHUSETTS – In yet another twist to a complex and heavily scrutinized relationship, Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Barack Obama did their best to shrug off their differences Wednesday as they gathered on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard following a foreign policy split.
Obama’s spokesman said the White House “is looking onwards and upwards,” while Clinton joked she was planning to hug off the public dispute with her former boss at a party on the upscale island getaway where the president was vacationing.
“We have disagreements as any partners and friends, as we are, might very well have,” Clinton told reporters crowded into a bookstore signing of her memoir, “Hard Choices.” “But I’m proud that I served with him and for him, and I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.”
Clinton was making her first public comments since the fallout of an interview with The Atlantic magazine in which she rebuked Obama’s cautious approach to global crises and described a different approach she would take in places like Syria and the Mideast.
“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she said, referring to a version of the phrase Obama and his advisers have used privately to describe his approach to foreign policy.
Reporters who crowded around a table set up for Clinton’s signing at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore asked her whether she disagreed with Obama’s Iraq policy.
“I’m excited about signing books,” she said, turning to a line of hundreds that snaked around the block near the ferry dock that brings summer visitors to the island.
Obama spokesman Eric Schultz declined to say whether the president was upset over her critique of his performance as he juggles several crises overseas. Schultz said Obama appreciated that she called him Tuesday to say she was not trying to attack him and said they “have a close and resilient relationship.”
The birthday party for Ann Jordan, wife of Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan, was private so there was no media coverage of any hug to be had.
“I believe the president and Secretary Clinton have had many hugs over the past few years,” Schultz said. “I suspect many of them have been caught on camera.”
Clinton’s book signing took place at a shop that Obama often visits to pick up some vacation reading. He did not attend the signing or have any plans to see Clinton outside the party, Schultz said.