Fox News reporter James Rosen asked State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf Friday if she and others, after months of answering questions about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account and related issues to that conduct, felt like "surrogate spokespeople" for her presidential campaign.
"I wonder if it’s been a concern for you and your other colleagues who do these press briefings at the podium, that in having to answer for Secretary of State Clinton’s conduct with respect to her private emails, the deletion of some of those emails, that you and your colleagues are, in effect, being forced to serve as surrogate spokespeople for the Clinton campaign?" Rosen asked. "Is that a concern for you?"
Harf insisted that was not the case, saying it was their job to "defend former Secretaries of State."
"I cetainly don’t feel that way, James," Harf said. "We take it very seriously here that we defend former Secretaries of State, their policies certainly. That is completely independent from any political campaign that may or may not be going on."
Matt Lee teased her that she was referring to all former Secretaries of State like William Seward, leading her to clarify she meant those within the Obama administration.
"When what they do is defensible," Rosen said next.
Harf didn't address that comment.
"When we talk about the policies of this administration, that includes policies under Secretary Kerry and under Secretary Clinton, but we keep it in a very nonpartisan and non-political lane," she said. "We, including myself, feel very strongly that this podium is a nonpartisan and a nonpolitical one. Yes, she is running for president and that is a fact, but that’s why when you ask me questions about her, I keep it based on the facts."