Clinton talks Romney and Obama debate, politics in interview

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 6:02pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brushed off speculation that the controversy over last month's consulate attack in Libya could thwart her chance at the White House should she decide to run for president in 2016.

In an interview with CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott, Clinton said the thought was not on her radar.

"You know that is just so far from anything that anybody should be thinking about," Clinton said. "I can't speak to that. The only threats I'm worried about are the threats to my men and women on the ground, every day, as we speak. It's what I'm obsessed with. It's what we've worked so hard to evaluate."

The State Department has been under fire as it investigates the cause of the violence in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, on September 11.

A former point man on security in Libya testified before Congress last week, saying requests for more security ahead of the attack were rebuffed by the administration.

Clinton said Monday she was ultimately responsible for the safety of State Department personnel, just days after Vice President Joe Biden came under scrutiny for suggesting the White House was unaware of the security requests.

"I take responsibility," Clinton told CNN during a visit to Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals."

While Clinton avoids wading too far into politics due to her role as a cabinet secretary, the former presidential candidate said she plans to watch the second debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

"We're going to try to get home in time to be sure that I see every minute of it," she said.

Clinton debated Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Asked what he needs to do in his next match-up against Romney, Clinton said he should focus on his record and proposals for the future.

"He just needs to be himself and answer the questions and get out there and tell people -not just those in the audience but in our country - what he has done and what he will do," she said. "I think this is a consequential election for both domestic and international reasons. Although I am out of politics, I am still an American and care deeply about what happens in my country."

The Clinton interview will air during CNN's special debate night coverage Tuesday night starting at 7 p.m. ET.

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