Clinton racks up gaffes

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHouse Republican group raised more than M in October Chaffetz says he'll vote for Trump Trump blasts Clinton for criticizing hotel opening MORE has made a string of gaffes as she works to fend off rival Bernie SandersBernie SandersClinton: AT&T deal 'raises questions and concerns' A Berniecrat's Argument Against Jill Stein and For Hillary Clinton Trump and millennials: He might do better than we think MORE in a slate of primaries on Tuesday.

The first came late last week when the Democratic presidential front-runner applauded Nancy Reagan’s response to HIV and AIDS in the 1980s.

Two days later, Clinton touched off a political firestorm when she said, "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

And the following day, during a televised town hall Monday night, Clinton said "we didn't lose a single person" in Libya, failing to mention the deadly 2012 deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

Democratic strategists doubt that any of the missteps would do lasting damage to her campaign, chalking them up to a brutal primary schedule with candidates appearing at events nearly around the clock.

"It tells me tired candidates make mistakes," said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. "Candidates slip up when they're tired and not thinking."

Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a Clinton supporter, similarly noted that Clinton's comments came in the context of nearly constant campaign and media appearances.

"I don't see any of these having a long-term impact at all," Manley said, describing the gaffes as "here today, gone tomorrow." 

Still, such miscues could make a difference this fall if Clinton faces off in a general election against Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHouse Republican group raised more than M in October Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate Chaffetz says he'll vote for Trump MORE.  

The outspoken billionaire has demonstrated a penchant for seizing on his opponents' gaffes while himself being seemingly immune to the political blowback over his own comments that would sink most candidates.

"If she wins the nomination and performs like this and says stuff like that in October, that could really hurt her," Bannon added. "Just ask Mitt Romney and his infamous '47 percent.' " 

Here's a synopsis of the Clinton remarks that have attracted attention:

Nancy Reagan

"It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV [and] AIDS back in the 1980s,” Clinton said unprompted during an interview Friday on MSNBC. "Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation where before nobody would talk about it."

Clinton immediately caught flak, with critics of the Reagans arguing they did little to stem the AIDS epidemic. Her campaign quickly issued a statement from her saying that she misspoke, and Clinton further apologized in an article posted to Medium the next day.

“To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS," Clinton wrote. "That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.” 


Clinton gave her Republican critics a sound bite for an attack ad Monday night when she said during a televised town hall on MSNBC that "we didn't lose a single person" in Libya.

The former secretary of State was discussing the 2011 military action to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi, comparing it to current international efforts in Syria, where millions of people have fled and thousands have died.

"It's perfectly clear from her full comments that Hillary Clinton was saying not a single American life was lost during the Libyan intervention,” said Jesse Lehrich, a Clinton campaign spokesman. “We heeded the calls of our allies, our partners in the region, and the Libyan people and helped topple a murderous dictator who was prepared to massacre his own citizens, all without putting American boots on the ground."

While the context of her comments related to U.S. diplomatic efforts, her comment about no American causalities could arise in the general election campaign. The death of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi has been a frequent subject of attacks from her opponents.


Republicans and the coal industry lashed out at Clinton after she remarked in a CNN town hall Sunday night that, "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity — using clean, renewable energy as the key — into coal country, because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Clinton said. She added, “We’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people."

During the appearance, Clinton touted her plan to protect coal communities amid a drop in demand for the fossil fuel. In November she outlined a $30 billion plan to invest in carbon capture technology for coal plants and defend coal workers' pension and health benefits, among other measures.

The comment drew the ire of Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE (Ky.), who dropped out of the Republican White House race last month. He accused Clinton of joining Obama's "war on coal and Kentucky." 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellFive takeaways from Florida Senate debate Liberal groups call for delaying cures bill to next year Conservative groups urge against extending energy tax breaks MORE (Ky.) on the Senate floor said "boasting" about putting coal miners out of business is "wrong."

Clinton's campaign released a statement appearing to walk back her remarks, with her stating, "Coal will remain a part of the energy mix for years to come, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure that coal communities receive the benefits they have earned and can build the future they deserve."