WASHINGTON (AP) — Behind closed doors, Hillary Clinton adopted a rather more accommodating tone with Wall Street than she has on the campaign trail.
In private paid speeches to financial firms and interest groups before she declared her candidacy, the Democratic presidential nominee comes off as a knowing insider, willing to cut backroom deals, embrace open trade and grant Wall Street a central role in crafting financial regulations, according to excerpts obtained last week through hacked campaign emails provided to WikiLeaks.
Compare that with her public remarks in the presidential race. For voters, Clinton has embraced the rhetoric of a class warrior: Higher taxes on the wealthy. Tougher rules for Wall Street. Empathy for the financial burdens of ordinary Americans.
The gap between her private and public remarks helps explain the relatively high levels of distrust that voters, including some of her own supporters, have expressed about the former secretary of state, New York senator and presidential spouse. Privately, to audiences at Goldman Sachs and others, Clinton expressed a philosophy that in some ways clashes with the progressive vision she has articulated while campaigning.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences:
In public, Clinton has taken a hard tack toward Wall Street, opposing any weakening of the regulatory reforms passed after the 2008 financial meltdown. She has warned that Republican lawmakers and Donald Trump want to abolish the stricter rules imposed under the Dodd-Frank law enacted in 2010.
“We should extend the rules passed in Dodd-Frank on Wall Street in crisis and strengthen them both for the big banks and the shadow banking system,” Clinton said in a speech in North Carolina this summer. “And I will veto any reforms to repeal those rules and vigorously enforce the law with accountability so Wall Street can never wreck Main Street again.”
Yet fears have lingered that despite such proclamations, Clinton remains too cozy with major banks and investment funds. The financial sector has been a major source of campaign donations for Clinton. And in a paid speech for a Goldman Sachs symposium in 2013, Clinton suggested that the industry should play a dominant hand in developing its own rules
“There’s nothing magic about regulations, too much is bad, too little is bad,” she is quoted as saying in the hacked emails. “How do you get to the golden key, how do we figure out what works? And the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”
Many experts agree that the financial industry itself needs to have some voice in crafting regulations, if new rules are to be effective and provide safety without sacrificing economic growth. But the emphasis in her private speech was much more sympathetic to the financial sector than what some industry watchdogs would wish.
THE MIDDLE CLASS
Clinton routinely celebrates her connection to average Americans.
“My mission in the White House will be to make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top,” she said in an August speech. “This is personal for me. I am a product of the American middle class…. I’ve always remembered that I’m the daughter of a small-business owner and the granddaughter of a factory worker – and proud of both.”
Yet despite the vast financial riches that she and her husband, Bill, began reaping once he left the presidency in 2001, Clinton even seemed to suggest that they face the same struggles with debt and college costs that many American households do.
“We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” Clinton told ABC News in 2014. “We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education.”
The Clintons are now worth several tens of millions of dollars, collected from speeches, book deals and other business arrangements. She seldom highlights this wealth in campaign addresses.
But she did so in a 2014 speech for Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, the investment management company. Speaking in private, Clinton acknowledged being increasingly isolated from the financial struggles of much of the country, saying, instead, that memories of her middle class past are her primary connection now.
“Obviously, I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy,” she said.