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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 
diverge.

   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 
security problem.

   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 
issue.

   Republicans contend Clinton is being overly political in the lead-up to a 
presidential campaign.

   "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 
political reasons."


(KA)


 
 
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