Hillary Clinton Distances Herself From Obama as 2016 Decision Looms

Image: Hillary Clinton Distances Herself From Obama as 2016 Decision Looms

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 08:20 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hillary Clinton has been slowly distancing herself from President Barack Obama as she begins moving toward announcing her own presumed 2016 presidential candidacy.

"If the president had 60 percent approval ratings, she would be hitching her wagon to him," Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former chief speechwriter for former California Gov. Pete Wilson, told The Wall Street Journal. "At 40 percent, he's an anchor."

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Clinton served during Obama's first term in office as his secretary of state, putting her in a sensitive place when it comes to criticizing the president.

"To the extent that she throws him under the bus, she has to run over him at a very slow speed," Whalen said.

In recent weeks. Clinton has suggested in her speeches that she would do more to work with Republicans than Obama has done, and be more assertive when it comes to global issues. Meanwhile, she has also been pessimistic about the economy, saying Americans "don't think the economy has recovered in a way that has helped them or their families."

Vice President Joe Biden, who may also run for the White House in 2016, would likely have an even more difficult time separating himself from Obama after eight years of being tied to the president's foreign and domestic agenda, the Journal's Peter Nicholas wrote.

The White House is supportive of Clinton, a senior Obama administration official told the Journal. The newspaper didn't identify the official.

Clinton also outlined many policy differences in her memoir, "Hard Choices," including saying she would have armed Syrian rebels much earlier in that country's civil war.

In March, Clinton struck a hawkish tone on issues including Iran and Russia, even while expressing broad support for the work done by Obama and her successor as secretary of state, John Kerry.

At that time, she said she was "personally skeptical" of Iran's commitment to reaching a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear program.

"I've seen their behavior over [the] years," she said, adding that if the diplomatic track failed, "every other option does remain on the table."

Clinton has also said that presidents should never quit trying to woo members of Congress, the Journal reported. Meanwhile, Obama had questioned publicly if the efforts make much difference and has used his executive privilege to act on several issues when they could not meet with congressional approval, a stance that has caused House Speaker John Boehner to threaten a lawsuit.

In addition, without specifically poking at Obama's 2008 campaign slogan of "hope," Clinton questioned candidates who push a "beautiful vision" while at a CNN event in June.

"I mean, some people can paint a beautiful vision," she said. "And, thankfully, we can all learn from that. But then, can you, with the tenacity, the persistence, the getting-knocked down/getting-back-up resilience, can you lead us there?"

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