Hillary Clinton Defends Speaking Fees, Says She And Bill Were 'Dead Broke' In 2001

| by Jared Keever

Former U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton said on Monday that she and husband Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001 at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term.

The comment was made in response to a question asked by ABC’s Diane Sawyer regarding the exorbitant speaking fees the Clintons are known to charge. Hillary Clinton charges $200,000 on average for speaking engagements. 

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt," Clinton said to Sawyer. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education. You know, it was not easy.”

Clinton told Sawyer she felt public speaking was the best way for the couple to pay the legal fees they owed after their tumultuous time in the White House.

"Let me put it this way," she said. "I thought making speeches for money was a much better thing than getting connected with any one group or company as so many people who leave public life do.”

But public speaking has not been the Clintons’ only source of income. The two have also made lucrative book deals. 

In fact, a new report from the Daily Mail indicates that the couple did not stay in debt for long and Bill Clinton made $12.3 million in his first year out of office.

But Hillary Clinton maintains they had to work hard for everything they have. Her comments leave many wondering if she might have lost touch with reality. 

During a friendly question-and-answer session with Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel on Wednesday at the Chicago Festival of Ideas, Emmanuel challenged Clinton on her comments.

"Dead broke?" Emanuel asked her. ”Really?”

The question drew laughs from the audience, according to CBS News.

"That may have not been the most artful way of saying that Bill and I have gone through a lot of different phases in our lives," Clinton answered. "That was then, this is now. Obviously, we are very fortunate. We've been given great opportunities.”

Bill Clinton has made as much as $750,000 for a single speaking engagement. Hillary Clinton has raked in $5 million in speaking fees in just the last year and made $16 million in advances for her two memoirs. The couple has an approximate net worth of $100 million. Bill Clinton is among the top 10 richest presidents in history.

Sources: ABC News, Daily Mail, CBS News