Clinton Selective on Policy Issues 11/26 06:27
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton offered praise for President
Barack Obama's executive actions to stave off deportation for millions of
immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. But the Democrats' favored
presidential hopeful has been less forthcoming on other issues in these early
days of the 2016 contest.
Clinton is not, so far, a candidate, and she's limiting her commentary about
the daily news cycle confronting Obama --- a strategy that could keep down
chatter about where she and the unpopular president agree and where they
The former secretary of state, senator and first lady is not talking about
the Keystone XL pipeline, rejected by one vote in the final weeks of the
Democrat-led Senate. She has yet to speak publicly about a sweeping climate
change agreement between the U.S. and China, an extension of talks over Iran's
nuclear program or the Senate's move to block a bill to end bulk collection of
Americans' phone records by the National Security Agency.
When Obama announced his moves to prevent the deportations for nearly 5
million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, Clinton quickly embraced the
decision on Twitter. The president, she wrote, was "taking action on
immigration in the face of inaction" in Congress. In doing so, she signaled
that as a candidate, she would run against the Republican-led House and Senate
that convenes next year. Clinton also drew a distinction from her would-be GOP
opponents who have spoken of immigration reform in large part as a border
On other weighty policy matters, however, Clinton is mum.
"You've got to make choices if you're not a candidate," said Lanny Davis, a
White House special counsel during the Clinton administration who attended law
school with Bill and Hillary Clinton. "She is not a candidate for president.
When she becomes a candidate, she has to start answering questions."
Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, declined to comment.
Clinton is expected to make her political intentions known in the coming
weeks, likely in early 2015. Her speeches are closely watched for signs of how
she might offer a rationale for her candidacy.
Clinton campaigned for Democratic candidates during the fall, often pointing
to pocketbook issues like equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage and
expanded family leave policies. "A 20th century economy will not work for 21st
century families," she said at an October rally.
Since then, Clinton has taken a more circumspect posture in public events,
appearing at charity events and voicing support for issues related to her work
at the Clinton Foundation. That approach allows her to stay above the political
fray in the aftermath of Democrats' poor showing during the midterm elections.
Clinton has stayed close to Obama on immigration, releasing a statement that
noted that previous presidents of both parties had taken similar steps.
The following night, in an interview at a New York Historical Society event,
Clinton reiterated the need for Congress to act on a comprehensive immigration
bill. She also put the issue in the context of families, saying the decision
probably affected wait staff who were serving the dinner.
"There is probably no more pressing issue at this time than to fix this
immigration system," said Alex Padilla, California's secretary of state-elect.
"As a leader, it was right for her to speak up. A lot of people wanted to know
what she thought."
Other policy issues carry more political risk.
Clinton has avoided weighing in on the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it
wouldn't be appropriate for her since the environmental review by the State
Department happened during her watch. The issue is tricky for Democrats because
labor unions have supported the plan but environmentalists adamantly oppose it.
Clinton has called climate change the nation's "most consequential" issue
but has yet to weigh in on the agreement Obama reached with China to set new
targets for cutting emissions. The deal was negotiated by John Podesta, a
Clinton White House chief of staff who is expected to play a prominent role in
a Clinton presidential campaign.
Both issues could receive attention from Clinton on Monday, when she is
scheduled to address the League of Conservation Voters in New York.
On NSA surveillance, Clinton has talked broadly about the need to balance
the need for security without infringing upon Americans' privacy amid a debate
over the government's collection of data. But she has kept a low profile on the
Republicans contend Clinton is being overly political in the lead-up to a
"Everything Hillary does is for political purposes," said Republican
National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, "which includes taking
positions for political expediency and not answering tough questions for