Clinton and Obama party together despite foreign policy split

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 10:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 10:12pm


Hillary Clinton and US President Barack Obama did their best to shrug off their differences as they gathered together following a foreign policy split.

Obama's spokesman said on Wednesday the White House "is looking onwards and upwards," while Clinton joked she was planning on hugging it off with her former boss at a birthday party for a mutual friend on the island getaway where Obama is vacationing.

"We have disagreements as any partners and friends, as we are, might very well have," Clinton told reporters crowded into a signing of her memoir Hard Choices on Wednesday. "But I'm proud that I served with him and for him, and I'm looking forward to seeing him tonight."

Clinton, Obama and their spouses sat together later that evening for a steak and shellfish dinner celebration for 150 people at the Farm Neck Golf Club. The White House said the Obamas were happy to have time with the Clintons, and noted that Obama and Clinton were among those who delivered 80th birthday toasts to guest of honour Ann Jordan, wife of Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan.

"The Obamas danced nearly every song. A good time was had by all," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said after Obama departed shortly after 10pm.

In an interview with The Atlantic magazine Clinton seemed to try to set herself apart from the unpopular Obama as she heads towards a possible 2016 White House bid.

"Great nations need organising principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organising principle," she had said in the interview, referring to a version of the phrase Obama and his advisers have used privately to describe his approach to foreign policy.

Her critiques came at a particularly challenging time for Obama, with bombs falling on Iraq and disputes raging in Syria, the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere. A former top Obama adviser, David Axelrod, took to Twitter to write: "Just to clarify: 'Don't do stupid stuff' means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision." Clinton voted in favour of the Iraq War in 2002, while Obama voiced opposition.

The latest disagreement has been Clinton's biggest split with Obama since their 2008 presidential primary campaign, when she questioned whether her younger Senate colleague was qualified to take a 3am phone call on a foreign policy emergency. Clinton took a more hawkish stance than Obama in that campaign but Obama put their bitter contest behind them by naming her his top diplomat.