And that pithy argument has since become the core of her economic message. Clinton is at the same time castigating Republicans for embracing policies that she says led to the economic downturns that Mr. Clinton and President Obama inherited. The Democratic primary had been tough on Mr.
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Clinton said at an N. While Mr. Clinton presided over one of the healthiest economies in recent memory, his pro-business pragmatism and emphasis on open markets are somewhat out of sync with a restless Democratic primary electorate worried about growing income inequality and wary of new trade deals. For months, it appeared that Mrs. Clinton, fighting to secure the support of labor unions and contending with Mr. Sanders and a potential run by Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr. Clinton withdrew her support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a nation trade pact that Mr.
Obama has championed and that she supported at the State Department. Clinton has also pledged to do more to regulate Wall Street; her husband oversaw a period of deregulation that critics say played a role in causing the financial crises. More recently, Mrs. Sanders and Mr. Clinton for not supporting a reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act , which broke up the big banks. And Mr. Rubin, a Wall Street veteran, and Lawrence H.
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And his history of skirt chasing—before the White House and during his presidency—is no longer defensible for many Democrats. When Hillary insisted in a national television interview last year that her husband's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was not "an abuse of power" because "she was an adult," the press reaction was scathing. According to three friends of the Clintons interviewed for this story who were granted anonymity to speak candidly , the furor had a "profoundly depressing effect" on the first couple and all those around them who still like and support them.
It couldn't have been worse.
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Until that point, it had been an open secret in Clinton world that Hillary was at least considering another presidential run, though just how seriously is a matter of dispute. She was being urged on by Bill, according to two sources close to them, who was convinced she would beat Donald Trump in a rematch. To both of them, "Trump had been predictably awful. They felt that, even with a relatively good economy, he was very vulnerable. Of course they did," says one former senior adviser. Either on the phone or at the occasional conclave at the couple's home in Chappaqua, New York, Hillary would bat around the idea with close aides, including former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, presidential campaign manager Maggie Williams and aide-de-camp Philippe Reines.
Some were less enthusiastic than others. In the first year or so after she lost to Trump, Hillary was somewhat insulated from the anger a lot of Democratic leaders felt toward her. That resentment was a subject Bill didn't raise, although he was aware of it from his endless soundings of his national network of contacts in the party. Public polling or approval ratings didn't provide much encouragement. A Gallup Poll in the fall of had her at 36 percent.
If there was ever any hope that Hillary might go for round two against Trump, defending Bill's conduct with Lewinsky ended it. The woman who somehow lost in "to an orange puffer clown fish," as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it, was, like her husband, done.
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Throughout most, if not all, of Hillary-land, there was relief. Still, for reasons that bewilder some of their friends, the Clintons continue to feel compelled to be in the public eye, to make themselves heard. Consider the recently concluded tour called "An Evening With the Clintons," in which the two reminisced about their time in Washington.
There were huge numbers of empty seats and large sections of the arena cordoned off by curtain. Ticket sales were slow, and the promoters had to cut prices in half. The entire evening was a debacle, and the tour took a hiatus. But it was not canceled. Organizers had booked some smaller venues for the spring — though at at least two of these some seating was blocked out so as to create a more intimate setting. Ticket prices were slashed, and again the Clintons sallied forth: 13 stops across the country, ending on May 4 in Las Vegas, answering softball questions from factotums like former political adviser Paul Begala or celebrities like comedian Jordan Klepper, who, inexplicably, was chosen to host the Washington, D.
Most of the program is legacy-burnishing: how smart they were; how they wanted to unite not divide; how they grew the economy for everyone, not just the rich. They riff about how they ended the war in Bosnia in the s. Most of the crowds are still adoring, of course; the Clintons don't even have enough juice to draw many protesters anymore. The crowds on the tour applaud virtually everything both of them say. But the small-scale venues—many were still not sold out—and the cheaper prices speak to the very real cost of exile for the Clintons. Beyond the just-ended tour, their speaking fees have plummeted.
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A Clinton spokesperson disputed these figures but declined to disclose specific speaking fees. He doesn't do them as often as he used to either—he's had "more than 30" engagements in the last 12 months, according to a spokesman—because physically, an associate says, "he's not up to it. The Clinton Foundation—the philanthropic unit Bill set up after his presidency—has also fallen out of favor now that there is no prospect of the Clintons returning to power.
A Clinton spokesman said that's "largely" because the annual Clinton Global Initiative Conference was canceled in , and fundraising for the endowment ceased. Republican critics often charged that the foundation was a pay-to-play scheme while Hillary was secretary of state and then a prospective president.
But those political charges have become as irrelevant as the Clintons are. Of the two, Hillary retains the higher public profile. She's still doing select TV interviews and some solo speaking engagements. Friends of hers say there was a time following the election when she didn't know how much to re-engage with the public—if at all. There was—and remains—considerable sentiment among Democratic stalwarts that the woman who lost an election to Trump should just go away. Brazile says she urged Hillary "to pick her spots, speak up and speak out.
She has done so and, in contrast to Bill, has been gratified that several of the current Democratic contenders have sought her advice on the campaign. Jennifer Palmieri, who served as Hillary's communications director in , says she expects Hillary to be "a very visible" presence as the campaign continues.
Friends of both Clintons say Hillary has been "warmed" by the amount of sympathy she gets from voters she encounters.