Hillary Clinton's Wealth Flap Hurts Image, Potential 2016 Bid

Image: Hillary Clinton's Wealth Flap Hurts Image, Potential 2016 Bid

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 10:27 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Political strategists agree that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent comments about her wealth have damaged her image, and some think it could become a significant issue should she decide to make a bid for the White House in 2016.

According to Politico, strategists are saying the former first lady's attempts at damage control have also backfired, leaving her vulnerable to appearing out of touch with the American electorate, and possibly compromising her populist appeal.

"The appropriate solution is to never discuss it again," Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic operative, told Politico. "Whatever she says is going to wind up in negative ads run by independent committees lined up against her and will probably include a backdrop of a lot of poor people."

He added, "By talking about money you automatically raise the hackles of people who are never, ever going to be able to make that kind of money."

Clinton earlier this month said she said and former President Bill Clinton found themselves "dead broke" on leaving the White House and that they are "not truly well off."

She later defended her comments by saying she pays "ordinary income tax" and she and her husband built their fortune over the years through the "dint of hard work," even though most of their wealth came from making lucrative speeches, Politico said.

Some strategists, however, believe the issue will blow over as long as she doesn't get a primary challenge from the left. Sheinkopf said that if the economy improves and optimism increases, it may become a non-issue, though current indicators suggest that would be unlikely, according to Politico.

Meanwhile, others predict Republicans will capitalize on the comments to frame a negative image of her, particularly as Democrats hammered 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his wealth and the way he earned it.

Nevertheless, an NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/Annenberg poll taken after she made her comments indicated that 86 percent of Democrats continue to believe Clinton can "relate to and understand the problems of average Americans" as well as other presidential candidates can, considering her "position and economic circumstances," though only 46 percent of independents agreed.

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