Hillary Clinton

After receiving an undergraduate education at Wellesley College and a law degree from Yale, Hillary Clinton worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, investigating President Richard Nixon in the Senate’s contemplation of impeachment over the Watergate affair. She moved to Arkansas with Bill Clinton, whom she had met at Yale, where he started a political career and she began teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School. After serving as the first lady of both Arkansas and the United States, gaining political experience on legislation aimed at helping children and families and spearheading a failed attempt to overhaul the national healthcare system, Clinton was elected a United States Senator from New York in 2000. In 2009 she became the 67th U.S. Secretary of State, serving until 2013. She is the only first lady to ever hold national elected office.

Clinton’s campaign kick-off video, “Getting Started,” from April 12. 

Clinton’s campaign website breaks down her policies into “The Four Fights:” “Building an economy for tomorrow” (domestic economic policy) “Strengthening America’s families” (social issues), “Defending America and our core values” (foreign policy), and “Revitalizing our democracy” (a catch all for Democratic talking points such as voting rights, campaign finance reform, and bipartisanship).

Clinton’s record is strongest on foreign policy. She led the State Department through the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, the international fallout over Edward Snowden’s whistleblower leaks, and an Iran antagonized against the Western world.

Her campaign will seek to promote this experience, focusing on smart, tough power around the world: defeating ISIS, preventing a nuclear Iran, “stand[ing] up to Putin,” and expanding America’s influence in Asia, especially in an effort to counter China.

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Clinton speaks at the State Department

As Secretary of State, Clinton focused worldwide on the rights of women and girls: to education, healthcare, and a political voice. Her administration would likely continue this effort.

While Clinton was supportive in her role as first lady of NAFTA, she later softened that support as a presidential candidate, saying that the free trade agreement “hurt a lot of American workers.” In a similar vein, while she was supportive of the Trans-Pacific Partnership during her time at the State Department, she has waffled on the issue since it came to the national attention recently for the secrecy under which it has been debated, and the wide scope of its effects.

It has been eight years since Hillary Clinton spoke in a campaign setting about economic policy. So far, details on her positions are lacking.

In line with most Democrats, Clinton supports infrastructure and clean energy investments as a way to stimulate the economy, and includes on her website a vague commitment to provide “tax relief” for working families and small businesses. She also outlines plans to make college more affordable and promote nation-wide access to childcare.

Perhaps in response to criticism that she is too close to Wall Street — Clinton’s top donors are from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, cumulatively — Clinton is placing an emphasis not only on the importance of voting rights, but also on campaign finance reform and democratic responsiveness.

Strengths

– Infrastructure. Hillary Clinton is working with an incredible advantage: the thousands of staffers, fundraisers, and advisors that, over the years, have worked for her or her husband, the former president. This infrastructure is much larger and more powerful than that any other candidate for president. While such a large team of supporters is prone to infighting, the advantages of such a vibrant community of in-the-know supporters far outweigh the costs.

– Name recognition. The Clinton legacy in American politics is rivaled perhaps only by the Bush clan, although she  looks to be leading Jeb Bush in early polling. And if she becomes the first woman to secure a major party’s presidential nomination, she will be making history.

Liabilities

– The Email Scandal and Benghazi: Recently, revelations that Clinton used a private email server during her time as Secretary of State — as opposed to the hyper-secure government servers she was supposed to use, in accordance with federal record keeping requirements — caused the first controversy of her candidacy. Questions about what Clinton may have been trying to hide, or why she would take such an undue risk have been swirling. Missing emails and her unilateral erasure of thousands of emails at her own discretion have also been controversial. The news only served to heighten the ongoing Benghazi scandal, in which the Obama administration, with Clinton as its Secretary of State, did not provide sufficient security in anticipation of an terrorist attack on the American consulate in Libya, which left 10 injured and four dead, including the American ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

– High speaking fees and Clinton Foundation donors: Hillary and Bill Clinton have come under some criticism, after Hillary announced her candidacy, for the high speaking fees they both charged to give lectures at colleges, non-profits, and other venues. While some fees were passed on as donations to the family’s non-profit Clinton Foundation, that institution has come under fire as well: for accepting donations from potential conflicts of interest, including foreign governments, corporations and individuals that are prohibited from donating to political campaigns and who have had or may yet have business before Congress, the State Department and the Obama Administration.

 

Clinton’s “re-launch” rally from Roosevelt Island, June 13. 

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