On Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, someone will raise their right hand, place their left hand on a Bible, and promise to uphold the Constitution as long as he or she serves as the 45th President of the United States. We obviously still have a long way to go before that moment happens, but potential players from both major parties are already starting to lay down foundations for possible runs to the White House. This series will profile some of those possible candidates and attempt to sift through the facts, fiction, and bias to show where each candidate really stands on the issues that matter to you- the citizen and voter- the most.
The first installment will discuss the person widely assumed (remember what happens when you assume?) to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination- Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Biography: Born Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago, Ill.; Oldest of three children; married William Jefferson Clinton in 1975; Gave birth to the couple’s only daughter, Chelsea, in 1980; Became a grandmother in 2014
Education: Graduated in 1969 from Wellesley College; Graduate of Yale Law School, Class of 1973
Political Resume: Worked on George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign; Served on the team that advised the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings in 1974; Worked for Jimmy Carter’s successful presidential bid in 1976; First Lady of Arkansas (1979-81, 1983-1992); First Lady of the United States (1993-2001); Led the 1993 Task Force on National Health Reform for President Clinton; Served as U.S. Senator from New York from 2000-2009; Selected by President Obama to be U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013)
Where She Stands On:
- The economy/free trade
- December 2007 debate (on if she would prioritize passing a balances federal budget each year): “Well, fiscal responsibility is a very high priority for me. We don’t have to go back very far in our history, in fact just to the 1990s, to see what happens when we do have a fiscally responsible budget that does use rules of discipline to make sure that we’re not cutting taxes or spending more than we can afford. I will institute those very same approaches. You can’t do it in a year. It’ll take time. But the economy will grow again when we start acting fiscally responsible. And then we can save money in the government by cutting out private contractors, closing loopholes, getting the health care system to be more efficient. We’ll do all of this at the same time, but the results will take awhile for us to actually see. “
- January 2008 debate: “I regretted voting for the bankruptcy bill and I was happy that it didn’t get into law. By 2005, there was another run at a bankruptcy reform, motivated by the credit card companies and the other big lenders. I opposed that bill. There was a particular amendment that is very telling. It was an amendment to prohibit credit card companies from charging more than 30% interest. It was one of the biggest lobbyist victories on that very bad bill that the bankruptcy bill represented.”
- December 2007 debate: “I advocate a cap and trade system. What the auction of pollution permits is taking that money and invest in new technologies, new ways of getting to our objectives that I’ve outline inside my energy plan. I want to use some of it to cushion the costs tha will come on to the US consumer. It’s not just enough to tackle global warming, we’ve got to enlist the help of the next generation. My fifth grade teacher said it was to study math and science, but it gave me an idea of contributing to my country.”
- Foreign policy
- 2013 New York Magazine interview: “I thought it was essential that as we restore America’s standing in the world and strengthen our global leadership again, we needed what I took to calling ‘smart power’ to elevate American diplomacy and development and reposition them for the 21st century. That meant that we had to take a hard look at how both State and A.I.D. operated. I did work to increase their funding after a very difficult period when they were political footballs to some extent and they didn’t have the resources to do what was demanded of them.”
- From her 2014 book Hard Choices: “In 2009, more than 55 million Americans were immigrants or the children of immigrants. These first- or second-generation Americans were valuable links back tot heir home countries and also significant contributors to our own country’s economic, cultural, and political life. Immigration helped keep the US population young and dynamic at a time when many of our partners and competitors were aging. Russia, in particular, faced what President Putin himself has called a ‘demographic crisis.’ Even China, because of its ‘One Child Policy,’ was headed toward a demographic cliff. I only wish that the bipartisan bill passed the Senate in 2013 reforming our immigration laws could pass the House.”
- According to OnTheIssues.org, then-Senator Clinton voted in 2006 to allow illegal immigrants to participate in Social Security and other social services, as well as to build a fence alongside the Mexican border.
- Gun control
- Wall Street Journal, May 2014: “”We’ve got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime,” she said. “And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.”
- April 2008 debate: “I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands.”
What Supporters Say: People who have supported Clinton in the past say her resiliency would make her a strong president, often pointing to the way she publicly handled the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the late 1990s. Other supporters say she has a leg up in reaching middle-income families when talking about the economy. The fact that she is a woman also seems to play a big factor in reasons why at least some people support her. Take a look at this March 2014 Gallup poll, which asked people what would be the best thing about Hillary Clinton occupying the Oval Office:
What Opponents Say: The area Clinton will likely be hit the hardest on (if she chooses to run) will be on foreign policy. She was the head of the state department during the deadly attack on the American embassy in Benghazi in 2012, and conservatives have routinely hit her hard on that security failure whenever an opportunity to do so presents itself. No matter what the actual facts are with Benghazi, Clinton and her team will surely spend much of their time addressing attacks and questions from the right relating to the matter. Her comments on her personal finances also seem like a sure bet to be brought up by Republicans as a way to portray her as out-of-touch with the needs and wants of average Americans.
Fundraising Ability: Democratic donors are apparently already lining up to give millions of dollars to a Clinton campaign. On the amount of money reportedly set to be given once the operation is a go, one donor was quoted as saying “it’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen.” If the past is any indication, Clinton would appear to have the support to back up such a lofty prediction. According to OpenSecrets.com (which tracks things such as political spending, re-election rates, voting numbers, etc.), then-Senator Clinton raised nearly $230 million by the end of May 2008 in her effort to secure the Democratic nomination for president. In spite of the lofty total, Clinton was left with over $20 million in debts after she left the race in June. Check out the table below, which shows how her fundraising efforts couldn’t keep up with what the campaign was spending over the last four quarters of the campaign (again, the table and stats are from OpenSecrets.org):
Likeliness of becoming party nominee: 75%*. This is assuming she runs (thus the asterisk). These odds are based more on a gut feeling rather than any complicated formula. Obviously a lot of unforeseen issues or scenarios can arise between now and primary season. It seemed everyone thought she would be the nominee in 2008, but then Barack Obama popped up from seemingly nowhere to claim the nomination. She seems to be the favorite for the Democrats right now, but that could change based on her performance and if she corrects her mistakes from 2008, as well as if other seemingly strong challengers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Biden, and others enter the fight.
(Writer’s Note: I have to say a big thank you to OnTheIssues.org, which tracks the positions and stances of American politicians. The site was a great help to me in writing this, especially with the quotes on various topics. I strongly recommend visiting the site to get a more in-depth look at the voting records and positions of politicians across a large variety of topics.)