Hillary Clinton's Wealth a Fresh Talking Point

by Associated Press  on Friday, Jun. 27, 2014 9:15 am  

Hillary Clinton

And yet Republicans still remember how President Barack Obama's campaign dissected Romney's business dealings and capitalized on his reluctance to release certain tax records. The campaign successfully created an image of Romney tied to his wealth that was cemented by a video of him telling donors that 47 percent of Americans would automatically vote for Obama because they don't pay income taxes and are "dependent upon government."

Romney's campaign tried to respond by portraying him as a success story and a business turnaround artist. But their efforts were undermined by a series of ready-for-YouTube gaffes in which Romney told out-of-work Floridians that "I'm also unemployed." He told a New Hampshire audience that he liked "being able to fire people" and quipped to a Detroit gathering that his wife "drives a couple of Cadillacs."

Such comments are reminiscent of Clinton's recent struggles to talk about her money and lifestyle, including a January remark in a speech to auto dealers that she hadn't driven a car since 1996.

While Clinton said this week that any comparisons to Romney were a "false equivalency," they lend themselves to a still-forming GOP strategy of portraying her as a Washington insider who has enjoyed a privileged life sheltered by private jets, fancy homes and hobnobbing with the elites of Wall Street and Hollywood.

Democrats argue that Clinton's personal wealth won't be able to overshadow a long career in public service, which began as an advocate for poor families at the Children's Defense Fund and led to years of work in Arkansas and Washington on issues such as early childhood education, expanded health care coverage and job creation.

"Attacks are most effective when they play into a pre-existing stereotype about a candidate," said Ben LaBolt, a former Obama campaign spokesman. "Nobody thinks that Hillary Clinton spent her career focused on making money. She was in the public eye advocating for a policy agenda."

In the interview with PBS NewsHour broadcast Wednesday, Clinton said her record "speaks for itself" and her "unartful use of those few words doesn't change who I am, what I've stood for my entire life, what I stand for today."

Here's how the Clintons have discussed their family's wealth in recent interviews:

Hillary Clinton to ABC News, broadcast June 9:

"We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. 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. Bill has worked really hard — and it's been amazing to me — he's worked very hard. First of all, we had to pay off all our debts, which was, you know, he had to make double the money because of obviously taxes and then pay off the debts and get us houses and take care of family members."

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Hillary Clinton to the Guardian, published June 21:

 

 

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