Hillary Clinton, the Anti-Obama Candidate?

Hillary Clinton speaks at the New America Foundation last Friday

Hillary Clinton speaks at the New America Foundation last Friday

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is positioning herself against the unpopular economic record of President Obama, should she decided to make a bid for the White House in 2016.

Speaking at the New America Foundation last Friday, Mrs. Clinton unleashed a scathing indictment of the country’s current leadership.

The “basic bargain of America,” promoted by her husband’s own presidential campaigns of the 1990s where “no matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have an opportunity to build a good life” was now gone, Mrs. Clinton said.

“Instead of getting ahead, they’re finding it harder and harder than ever to get their footing in our changing economy,” she continued. “The dream of upward mobility that made this country a model for the world feels further and further out of reach.”

“Forget about getting rich,” Clinton told the audience. “I’m talking about getting into the middle class and staying there.”

Mrs. Clinton singled out women as being particularly hard-hit by the current economic situation. The average American woman “doesn’t just face ceilings on her aspirations; sometimes it feels as if the floor has collapsed beneath her,” she said.

Only once during her nearly 40-minute speech did she credit her former self-described “partner and friend,” President Obama, with any economic achievement.

Not many have felt the Obama Recovery.

Not many have felt the Obama Recovery.

“It took years of painstaking work and strong leadership from President Obama to get our economy growing again,” she said.

But instead of praising her former boss as paving a road towards better economic times, Mrs. Clinton looked back to her husband’s time in the White House as the way forward.

“The 1990s taught us, that even in the face of difficult long-term economic trends, its possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad-based growth and shared prosperity,” she said, noting the economic record of the Bill Clinton administration.

Mrs. Clinton’s critical focus on America’s current economic woes, without directly blaming President Obama, indicates a strategy she may play out in a 2016 presidential bid. While making an arguably tough case for her achievements in the Obama administration as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton can also make points among the many voters unhappy with the Obama recovery.

This strategy was also underscored by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, whose memoir released earlier this year was sharply critical of the Obama administration while heaping praise on Mrs. Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates

Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates

In a May 11 interview with CBS Face the Nation, Gates called for a streamlining of government to tackle America’s economic and social problems.

“I think the greatest national security threat to this country at this point is the two square miles that encompasses the Capitol building and the White House,” Gates bluntly said.

“If we can’t get some of our problems solved here at home, if we can’t get our finances in a more ordered fashion, if we can’t begin to tackle some of the internal issues that we have, if we can’t get some compromises on the Hill that move the country forward, then I think these foreign threats recede significantly into, as far as being a risk to the well-being and the future of this country,” he explained.

Gates blamed the entrenched bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration for the waiting-time current scandal, saying it “really needs to be handled on an urgent basis within the executive branch.”

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