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Clinton Faces Questions on Bid to Become Top Diplomat

Secretary of State nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate confirmation hearing began Tuesday, when she answered questions on a range of foreign policy issues. Clinton also defended herself against criticisms of conflicts of interest linked to foreign contributions to her husband's charitable foundation.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Sen. Hillary Clinton arrived on Capitol Hill this morning to try out for a new role, as president-elect Obama's choice for his secretary of state. The laundry list of challenges awaiting the incoming administration, she said, is long and daunting.

    SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y., secretary of state nominee: Our nation and our world face great perils from ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the continuing threats posed by terrorist extremists, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, from the dangers of climate change to pandemic disease, from financial meltdown to worldwide poverty.

    The 70 days since the presidential election offer fresh evidence of these challenges, new conflict in Gaza, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, mass killings and rapes in the Congo, cholera in Zimbabwe, reports of record high greenhouse gases and rapidly melting glaciers, and even an ancient form of terror — piracy — asserting itself in modern form off the Horn of Africa.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In making the case for her confirmation, Clinton also sketched out Mr. Obama's approach to foreign policy.

  • HILLARY CLINTON:

    The president-elect and I believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology, on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice. Our security, our vitality, and our ability to lead in today's world oblige us to recognize the overwhelming fact of our interdependence.

    I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted. We must use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal — diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural — picking the right tool or combination of tools for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of our foreign policy. This is not a radical idea.