Hillary Clinton Regrets Not Driving a Car Since 1996

Former first lady tells auto dealers she has not driven herself since 1996.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after receiving the 2013 Lantos Human Rights Prize during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. The New Hampshire-based human rights organization awarded its highest honor to Clinton for her efforts to promote human rights for women and through Internet freedom.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton says "one of the few regrets I have about my public life" is a simple one: not driving a car.

"The last time I actually drove a car myself was 1996, and I remember it very well," she told the National Automobile Dealers Association's convention in New Orleans. "Unfortunately, so does the Secret Service, which is why I haven't driven since then."

Clinton was first lady in '96. After that, she was a U.S. senator from New York and then secretary of state. She is now in private life but is considering whether to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

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If she does run, as expected, she could regret the comment about not driving a car. As liberal commentator Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out during his MSNBC television show Monday night, not driving a car, and not experiencing first-hand what it's like to pay high prices for gasoline, could be used to argue that Clinton is out of touch with everyday people. This is a charge that hurt Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

Some of Clinton's remarks were light-hearted and self-deprecating. Clinton said her first car was a 1963 Oldsmobile Cutlass that she purchased for $120 while she was in law school. It had "seen better days" and she had trouble starting the engine, she said. "I didn't know what to do and I had no money. I concluded that it was the cold, and the battery would get cold, and that's why it wouldn't start."

So she make a habit of removing the battery from the car and, she said, "taking it into my dorm room so it would be warm before I put it back in. That was the limit of my understanding," according to a report in Politico.

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Turning serious, Clinton told the car dealers Monday that her biggest regret from her time as secretary of state "is what happened in Benghazi," when an attack resulted in the killing of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in 2012. "You make these choices based on imperfect information and you make them to, as we say, the best of your ability; but that doesn't mean that there's not going to be unforeseen consequences, unpredictable twists and turns," she said, according to a video shown by CNN. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly criticized Clinton for failing to adequately protect the Americans from the attack.

When asked about her plans for 2016, Clinton was vague. "I have to say, I don't know," she replied.


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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.