Clinton patches relations with liberals at campaign’s outset

Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, participates in a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Center in Monticello, Iowa, on April 14, 2015.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, participates in a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Center in Monticello, Iowa, on April 14, 2015. Charlie Neibergall, AP

Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, participates in a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Center in Monticello, Iowa, on April 14, 2015. Charlie Neibergall, AP

Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, participates in a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College’s Jones County Regional Center in Monticello, Iowa, on April 14, 2015.

WASHINGTON — This time, Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to be on liberals’ good side.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, she opposed same-sex marriage, equivocated on granting driver’s licenses to people who were living in the U.S. illegally and endured heavy criticism from rival Barack Obama over her stance on campaign finance.

During the opening week of her second presidential campaign, Clinton showed she had retooled her positions to line up with the views of progressive Democrats.

On Monday, she called for a constitutional amendment that would limit “unaccountable money” in politics. Days later, she said through her campaign that she supports same-sex marriage being recognized as a constitutional right in a pending Supreme Court case. After that, her campaign said she now supports state policies awarding licenses to people in the country illegally.

Such do-overs are part of an effort by Clinton to rectify past missteps and assure the liberal wing of her party that in 2016, she will be change they’ve been waiting for.

While Clinton enters the race in a dominant position, she faces skepticism from some Democrats who question her commitment to tackling income inequality.

“Equal opportunity and upward mobility have been very central to her political ideals from the start,” said Robert Reich, who was President Bill Clinton‘s labor secretary and has known Hillary Clinton since college. “I just don’t know how courageous she will be in fighting for them.”

Clinton devoted the first week of her campaign trying to put such concerns to rest. She visits New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday, returning to the state that handed her a 2008 primary victory early in the bruising nomination struggle won by Obama.

Article continues below

Aides spent much of the first 72 hours reaching out to union leaders, party officials and other interest groups. But for some who have met with her campaign staff, they wonder not about whether Clinton will tack to the left, but how far her proposals will go.

“There’s a big difference between a $9 or $10 minimum wage versus a $15 wage,” said Adam Green, a liberal activist who has talked with the campaign over the past months. “The big question we anticipate is, will they go big or will they go small?”

So far, at least a few are encouraged. At her opening event in Iowa, Clinton took on CEOs and hedge fund managers, saying the “deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.”

At the Statehouse, her support for universal pre-K earned some of the biggest applause from Democratic lawmakers, according to people in the room.

Continue reading

This Story Filed Under

Comments