Hillary Clinton Seeks to Balance Wall Street, Populist Concerns

Image: Hillary Clinton Seeks to Balance Wall Street, Populist Concerns

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 11:24 AM

By Andrea Billups

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Hillary Clinton must have both populist clarity and plenty of assurances for Wall Street and the nation's financial sector as she moves ahead politically, executives say.

It will be tricky dance as she must define her positions while also being mindful that both new regulations and issues surrounding income inequality are rising to the forefront as Democrats circle the wagons for 2016, The New York Times reports.

Aides say thus far in her political life, Clinton has mined the financial sector divide successfully, her long and personal relationships with powerful industry leaders giving her a boost.

"If you look at her positions, in my view, she was very aggressive on ensuring that Wall Street was better regulated and her argument about all these proposals is that this is going to be better for all of us," Neera Tanden, Clinton's 2008 campaign policy director, told the Times.

But already political observers are warning that her message about income inequality, while likely resonating among the angry middle classes after years of disconnection during the Obama administration, remains a slippery slope if she hopes Democratic donors will step up to assist a presidential bid — her family's deep connections to that sector's power-brokers aside.

"People are going to be in a surly mood, a populist mood," political consultant Michael Lux predicts of the 2016 elections. "To have a Democrat too close to Wall Street, raising too much money from them, having a 'We're all in this together' message is a big mistake."

Wall Street is already weighing in on its support of potential candidates, noting that Clinton, as a Democrat, could be an easier sell than any potential Republican match-up on the table now, Politico reported, calling Clinton Wall Street Republicans' "dark secret."

"Donors, financial executives and Washington representatives offered a consistent refrain: If we can’t nominate someone like Bush or Christie from the pro-business wing of the party, and if the GOP nominee is from the far right, then we will hold our noses and tolerate Clinton," Politico noted.

"Most people in the industry find her approachable and have a track record with her," added a Republican financial services executive of Clinton. "They wouldn’t align with her on every policy, but they won’t view her as hostile to the sector. If it turns out to be Hillary walking away with it, there would not be any panic."

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