By Alistair Bell and Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said on Friday she was sorry that her use of a personal email account while secretary of state caused confusion, in her most contrite comments yet about an issue that is plaguing her presidential bid.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for the November 2016 election, did not apologize for her own behavior but said she was wrong not to use a government email account when she was serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
“At the end of the day I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions but there are answers to all these questions,” she told MSNBC in an interview.
Clinton has faced steady criticism from political opponents since it emerged in March that she used her own email account on an unsecured private server in her New York home for official business, rather than a government-issued email address.
“I certainly wish that I had made a different choice and I know why the American people have questions about it,” Clinton said. “I take responsibility. I should have had two accounts, one for personal and one for work-related.”
Doubts over Clinton’s trustworthiness have damaged her poll numbers, allowing liberal Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to narrow the gap with her before the first nominating contests for the election early next year.
Clinton’s slump in opinion polls has also given space for a possible run by Vice President Joe Biden. Biden, whose son died earlier this year, said on Thursday he is trying to determine whether he has the emotional energy for a White House bid.
Clinton said that while she should have behaved differently, she had done nothing wrong. “It was allowed and it was fully above board. The people in the government knew that I was using a personal account,” she said.
The FBI is now investigating the security of the private server and any classified information on it.
Reviews by Reuters of Clinton emails released to the public under a judge’s orders found 87 email threads that the State Department has marked to show they include information shared in confidence by foreign government officials, from prime ministers to spy chiefs.
U.S. government regulations say this sort of information, whether written or spoken, must be classified from the start and handled through secure, government-controlled channels.
Clinton said she used the personal email account for convenience and did not give the issue much thought when she took over as secretary of state in 2009.
“I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn’t really stop and think what kind of email system will there be,” she said. (Editing by John Whitesides; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)