Hillary Clinton Confronts Leftward Shift Among Democrats

Image: Hillary Clinton Confronts Leftward Shift Among Democrats

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 09:35 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may face a difficult challenge should she choose to run for president in 2016: convincing Democrats that she is in line with the increasingly liberal shift of the party since her husband was president.

According to Politico, more than a dozen Democratic strategists and former colleagues of the first family say Clinton must find a way to break away from the centrist image of former President Bill Clinton if she is to gain traction in an age of deep cynicism about Wall Street and the political establishment, as well as populist concerns about rising wage inequality.

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"This is the most important set of conversations going on right now. We are in a different economic era that requires a different kind of response," Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network who shaped the economic message for Bill Clinton in the 1992 campaign, told Politico.

"Their eyes are wide open. No one thinks it's going to be an easy election in the primary or in the general," he added. "Things are very unsettled in American politics right now, and no one close to her thinks this would be anything but a very tough race."

Clinton will need to demonstrate she can connect with her party's policies and its overall shift, perhaps distancing herself from Bill Clinton's tendency to move to the right when political strategy called for it, Politico said.

"You would not want to dissociate yourself from the overall results of the Clinton years because obviously it was a very strong economic performance," Mike McCurry, who served as Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary from 1994 to 1998, told Politico.

"But it's a very different time now, and it wasn't apparent in the 1990s that you had this growing huge disparity in wealth. That's largely a 21st century phenomenon, and she will need a broad economic vision to deal with it."

Clinton's recent gaffes regarding her own wealth will not help her case, Politico suggested. She will need to develop careful messaging on both economic issues and social issues, pundits say, something she has yet to do.

"The test for any candidate in 2016 is going to be whether they can gain some traction on the idea that they have the ability to change the way the American economy has been going for the last 15 years," Rosenberg told Politico.

"And that means creating some distance from the perception that there is an economic and political elite that is uncaring and uninterested in helping everyday people."

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