10 questions for Hillary Clinton

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles as she speaks at Rancho High School on May 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

In the 36 days since Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president, she has answered just 13 questions from reporters. The last time she took a question was a month ago, Apr. 21, 2015, about the book, "Clinton Cash," which took a critical look at her family's finances.

(Clinton's response was, "Those issues are in my view distractions from what this campaign should be about, what I'm going to make this campaign about.")

In the intervening month, there have been news developments that have elicited reactions from other presidential candidates and potential candidates. Clinton, however, has said little.

As she returns to the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, here are 10 questions CBS News might ask:

1. Do you support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

The Democratic Party is divided on trade. Mr. Obama, Republicans and some Democrats want legislation that would put the Asia-Pacific free trade agreement on an expedited path through Congress. Other Democrats think the agreement would hurt American workers and the environment. Which Democrats would Clinton side with now?

She argued for TPP as secretary of state and in her 2014 memoir, "Hard Choices" but has been noncommittal since. She has said on this issue only that "any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security, and we have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive."

And as CBS News Correspondent Julianna Goldman reported Monday, Clinton earned more than $2.5 million giving speeches to organizations that have lobbied in favor of the trade deal.

2. Should Congress have a say in whether the U.S. signs a nuclear agreement with Iran?

Both the House and Senate have now passed bills that would allow Congress to review the framework deal that rolls back Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The legislation would allow lawmakers to block the president from exiting at least some sanctions if enough members don't like the deal.

The White House had resisted congressional efforts to weigh in, arguing this negotiation is the purview of the president, but given the substantial Democratic support, the president is expected to sign the deal.

3. Does the president need a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

In mid February, the White House sent Congress legislation that would formally authorize war against ISIS - six months after the air campaign against the Islamic group actually began. The administration believes that the 2001 authorization that gave the president the authority to deploy U.S. troops to fight the instigators of the 9/11 attacks also enables him to fight ISIS, so a new AUMF hasn't topped his agenda. Still, the fight against ISIS will almost certainly bleed into 2016 and the campaign.

4. Why are Republican candidates struggling to give a straight answer on whether they would have authorized the 2003 Iraq invasion?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Bush was the first to stumble, saying he would have authorized the war in Iraq. He then claimed he misinterpreted the question posed by Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who initially asked whether he would have authorized the invasion, "knowing what we know now." Eventually, he said, "Knowing what we now know, I would not have engaged."

And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio struggled to articulate his position after "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace played two video clips in which he appeared to take different stances on the 2003 invasion.

This is an area where Clinton has been unequivocal. "I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple," she wrote in "Hard Choices."

‎5. What can you say to ensure voters that contributions to the Clinton Foundation will not affect your decisions as president?

Clinton has been asked about foreign government donations to the Clinton Foundation, related to her tenure as secretary of state, and especially on whether foreign entities received special treatment in exchange for contributions to the foundation. She said, "We're back into the political season and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of distraction and attacks. And I'm ready for that. I know that that comes, unfortunately, with the territory."

After she last interacted with the press, the Clinton Foundation admitted it had erred in its public disclosure of donors.

6. What steps would you take to help same-sex couples get married if the Supreme Court does rule it is a constitutional right?

Since former President Bill Clinton, signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, Clinton has held just about every view on the spectrum of same-sex marriage. In 2000, she said she believed marriage was for a man and a woman. For awhile, she said it fell under the authority of states. In 2015, the video she released to announce her presidential bid featured a gay couple. Now, her campaign staff says she supports same-sex marriage and wants the Supreme Court to rule that it is a constitutional right.

But what if they don't? After hearing arguments on the issue in late April, the justices appeared sharply divided over whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry. If the court rules in June that states have a right to declare only men and women can enter into marriage, will Clinton take action?

7. How would you go "even further" than President Obama on immigration and stay within the limits of the law?

Clinton gave an immigration speech in Nevada earlier this month, and pledged to go "even further" than President Obama did by allowing a larger pool of people, such as the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally, to apply for a reprieve from deportation.

President Obama spent months publicly saying he didn't have the authority to expand relief for undocumented immigrants before he used his executive authority to protect millions from deportation. And he had his legal team spend months making sure the case for that action was airtight and would hold up against a potential court battle.

Congress, meanwhile, is far from acting on immigration and is even looking for ways to roll back programs the president has put into place.

8. You left the White House "dead broke," in your words. You now command upwards of $200,000 a speech. How much money do you think you and your husband need to be comfortable?

Clinton later apologized for the "dead broke" comment, saying she could have been more "artful."

She and husband Bill Clinton earned just over $25 million from a total of about 100 paid speeches since January 2014 and $5 million from the proceeds of "Hard Choices."

9. Is it hypocritical for you to accept super PAC support -- and to push the boundaries of the law by coordinating with a super PAC -- while calling for new rules to limit third-party campaign spending?

Like President Obama before her, Clinton is accepting campaign support from super PACs -- independent groups that can accept unlimited campaign donations from individuals or corporations -- while at the same time condemning their influence on the political process.

"We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment," Clinton said last month in Iowa, calling campaign finance reform one of the four key pillars of her campaign.

Even so, her campaign insists that as long as others in the race for the White House are exploiting super PACs, her campaign will as well. The Clinton campaign, however, is actually empowering super PACs even more by coordinating with one specific group. Super PACs are barred from coordinating with candidates, but this group says it has found a loophole allowing it to work with the Clinton team.

10. Are you willing to tell Saudi Arabia that they must encourage equal rights for women?

Women's rights was one of Clinton's chief causes as secretary of state - and it's likely to become a point of contention during the 2016 campaign as well given the lingering questions about the Clinton Foundation's acceptance of donations from foreign governments. On the day she announced her presidential bid, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky - himself a contender for the White House - honed in on Clinton's relationship with the Saudis.

"In Saudi Arabia, a woman was raped by seven men. The woman was then publically whipped. And then she was arrested for being in a car with an unmarried man. I think we should be boycotting that activity, not encouraging it. And it looks really bad for the case of defending women's rights, if you're accepting money," Paul said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" in April.

After Clinton announced, the foundation announced a new donor policy. Now, the foundation will accept large donations from six foreign governments - Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for