WASHINGTON — On the eve of a cross-country book tour seen as her opening gambit in the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton caused a political flap Monday by saying her family was "dead broke" upon leaving the White House in 2001 and "struggled" to pay their mortgages on two homes.
Republicans seized on the comments to argue that the Democrat — now a multimillionaire who charges $200,000 per speech — is out of touch with middle-class Americans. The episode is the latest reminder of the increasingly partisan aura that surrounds the former secretary of state as she gets closer to making a decision about 2016.
To promote her new memoir, Hard Choices, which hits stores today, Clinton is traveling from coast to coast this month giving speeches, signing copies and sitting for network television interviews. The first, on ABC, aired Monday night.
Clinton was asked about reports that she has made about $5 million delivering speeches since she left the State Department last year and Bill Clinton has made more than $100 million since leaving the White House in 2001.
"We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt," she said. "We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education. You know, it was not easy."
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus tweeted, "How out of touch is Hillary Clinton when 'dead broke' = mansions & massive speaking fees?"