Clinton’s Book Frames Diplomatic Work as Delivering on Economy
In the sixth and final section of “Hard Choices,” scheduled for release today from Simon & Schuster, Clinton writes that she jetted to foreign capitals as advocate-in-chief for American companies such as General Electric Co. (GE), Boeing Co. (BA), and FedEx Corp. (FDX) to help them close deals that would translate into U.S. jobs. Bloomberg News purchased seven copies of Clinton’s book prior to the publication date at stores in two cities.
While most secretaries of state point to treaties and negotiated settlements as signature achievements, Clinton allies say she could give that a different twist by talking about the jobs she created as the nation’s top diplomat.
“She provided strong support for American business and in so doing supported a lot of U.S. jobs,” Bob Hormats, who worked under Clinton at the State Department, said in an interview. “She could certainly go to a Caterpillar plant or a Boeing plant or even small companies and say ‘I used the power and influence of the secretary of state and of the State Department and of our embassies to enhance business opportunities for this company and for the workers of this company.’”
One example she offers in the book is lobbying Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on behalf of GE, which was seeking a $2.5 billion contract to help build six natural gas plants in the Northern African nation.
After the meeting, Clinton wrote, she was “optimistic” the company would prevail and “less than a year later” it did.
“Over the next few years GE will build generators and giant turbines for these plants in Schenectady, New York, and Greenville, South Carolina, supporting thousands of manufacturing jobs,” Clinton writes.
The strategy paints Clinton’s closeness to the leaders of some of America’s largest companies as an asset, which could blunt some Democrats’ complaints about her business ties. Clinton has faced criticism for her advocacy on behalf of Boeing, which she’s repeatedly tapped to finance pet projects.
Clinton, 66, writes about an October 2009 trip to Moscow where she pushed the Russians to pick the U.S. airline manufacturer for a $4 billion contract.
“I made the case that Boeing’s jets set the global gold standard,” Clinton writes. When Boeing won the deal for 50 new planes, Clinton notes the work will be “translated into thousands of American jobs.”
Shortly after the Moscow meeting, Boeing donated $2 million to help fund an American pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, a world fair that attracted displays from roughly 250 countries and international groups. The American exhibition had a $60 million price tag, and Clinton had to finance it with private funds since Congress had barred U.S. taxpayer dollars from being used on such projects.
The company also has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, the philanthropic organization that she, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, operate.
Neither of those donations is covered in the book.
Former aides said that she turned a thousand “economic officers” scattered in embassies into “jobs officers” who were given the task of meeting with representatives of U.S. companies seeking overseas contracts and executives of foreign businesses considering plants in the U.S.
“What we did was double down with the fixation of making sure we do everything we can in terms of job creation, in both places, overseas and the United States,” said Tom Nides, a deputy secretary of state under Clinton.
Clinton takes credit in the book for delivering more than $200 million in “economic impact” to Tennessee and Texas thanks to the state department’s “little noticed” Open Skies Agreements.
The program, she writes, gave U.S. airlines access to new routes, including direct flights between Memphis and Amsterdam that she says added $120 million annually to Tennessee’s economy.
Another deal she takes credit for: Keeping a handful of Chinese cities open to FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc. after the government began requiring what she calls “restrictive licenses” to operate. “The Chinese officials were surprised by the sustained U.S. government response to the issue at such a senior level,” Clinton writes.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at email@example.com Michael Shepard