Washington: Hillary Clinton on Tuesday acknowledged that her use of a private email system while helming the US State Department was a "mistake", adding that she is "sorry" for it.
"I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn't perhaps appreciate the need to do that," Clinton told ABC News on Tuesday, referring to an early strategy of her and her campaign to either dismiss the controversy or joke about it.
While Clinton continued to stress that her use of a private email account and server as the US top diplomat was "allowed" and "above board", she showed her greatest contrition Tuesday since the issues started earlier this year.
"But in retrospect, as I look at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts," said Clinton. "That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility." The remarks came only one day after Clinton refused to apologize for her use of a private email account and server with The Associated Press, saying what she did was allowed.
Hillary Clinton. Pic/ PTI
In an earlier interview with NBC News on Friday, Clinton only apologized for causing confusion among the voters. For weeks, the Clinton camp has insisted that the issues surrounding her email were hyped by media and haven't affected the dynamic of her campaign machine.
However, a number of national polls showed that as Clinton fails to end controversy around her exclusive use of her private email account and server from 2009 to 2013, an increasing number of voters start to question her trustworthiness and honesty.
A poll by Monmouth University showed on Tuesday that Clinton's support rate dropped 10 points in the past month. A pair of NBC News/Marist polls released Sunday indicated that Clinton's favourability rating among voters in key early-voting states dipped.
According to the polls, Clinton trails Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by nine points in New Hampshire, and her lead over Bernie Sanders in Iowa has shrunk from 24 points in July to 11 points. A Gallup poll on Friday also showed that Clinton's favorability rating has dropped to an all-time low.
At a press conference in March, Clinton said she had exchanged about 60,000 emails from her private email account during her stint in the Obama administration, among which about half were personal and thus deleted. The Clinton camp turned over the other half, 30,000 emails in total, to the State Department last year.
Clinton's Republican rivals have long claimed that Clinton had deleted certain work-related emails, mainly on the 2012 Benghazi attacks that claimed four American lives, including the US ambassador to Libya, to protect herself.
The controversy around Clinton's email practices again burst into public view earlier August after the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community revealed that two of the thousands of emails held by Clinton contained top-secret information.
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