Clinton, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," said that the Obama administration's announcement that it will take in 10,000 Syrian refugees is "a good start" but that the United States should increase the number to 65,000 because of the scale of the refugee crisis after nearly five years of conflict.
"The United States has do more," Clinton said in her first appearance on a Sunday public affairs television show in four years.
She renewed her call for the United Nations to host a pledging conference during this month's General Assembly session at which nations could commit to taking in more refugees or paying into a fund to help them.
She called President Obama's program to train some Syrian rebels a washout and implied that it came far too late to be effective. She had recommended training and equipping the irregular rebel forces while they were coalescing in 2011 and 2012 to fight the dictatorship of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"I did recommend at the beginning of this conflict that we do more to help train those who were in the forefront," Clinton said. "That was not the decision that was taken at that time. A lot of what I worried about has happened," including a power vacuum that has allowed the rise of Islamic State militants, Clinton said.
Obama, who was elected on a pledge to end the Iraq war and keep the United States out of similar Mideast morasses, resisted direct U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict, which arose from the Arab Spring uprisings and quickly became a grinding civil war. Clinton outlined the policy debate in her 2014 State Department memoir "Hard Choices," saying she accepted the outcome.
After Clinton left office, the Obama administration began an air campaign inside Syria and inaugurated a small rebel training program. Both efforts are aimed at the Islamic State militant group, not at Assad. The administration position is that Assad has lost his legitimacy to govern but that the United States will take no direct action to oust him.
"Where we are today is not where we were, and where we are today is — we have a failed program," Clinton said.
In a wide-ranging interview, she also deemed Republican front-runner Donald Trump irresponsible for stirring up what she called some of the worst impulses in American politics.
"He is fueling a level of paranoia and prejudice against all kinds of people," Clinton said.
She said she is not ready to go on the attack against her stronger-than-expected rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and called herself a rightful embodiment of the national mood favoring nontraditional candidates.
"I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president," Clinton said.
Asked to sum herself up in three words, Clinton said she could not do so. Nonetheless, she had a game response, one that seemed to acknowledge the frequent criticism that she appears inauthentic or programmed.
"Look, I am a real person, with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that," she said.
Clinton said little new about her use of a privately owned e-mail system when she was secretary of state. Questions about the arrangement have clouded Clinton's campaign, cutting deeply into her once-formidable lead over other Democrats and sullying her record as secretary of state in the minds of some voters.
"I've said that I didn't make the best choice," Clinton said, adding that although the arrangement was "fully above board," it was a "mistake."
"I'm sorry that I made a choice that has raised all of these questions, because I don't like reading, you know, [that] people have questions about what I did and how I did it," Clinton said. "I'm proud of the work we did at the State Department."
As to whether the decision to set up the system outside regular State Department operations suggests that Clinton has no one around her to steer her away from bad ideas, she laughed.
"I have too many, actually," Clinton said, referring to advisers.