3 Questions We’d Like to Ask Hillary Clinton

 Steve Pope/Getty Images

Steve Pope/Getty Images

At this point, Hillary Clinton is one of the top choices for the Democrat presidential candidates in 2016. Looking forward to possible options, hers is one of the first names that leaps to mind on the left; whether you love her or hate her, she’s got name recognition to her advantage in a big way. While many have pressed her to announce candidacy, Clinton has yet to confirm or deny intentions to run. She’s said only that she’s considering the possibility and will announce her decision sometime in early 2015, in keeping with common practice these days.

However, other indicators — such as her book tour, increased public events, and that recent visit to Iowa — suggest that even if she truly hasn’t decided, she’s taking the possibility seriously. As a potential future president, there are a surfeit of questions about her past, present, and future. After all, her political history affects those who would vote for her, and her political past could hold hints as to the future of the United States. Here are just three big questions examining items of major implications for America’s economy and Clinton’s electability.

Would you consider yourself an average American (vis-à-vis your dead broke comment)?

Democrats have often accused Republicans of being out of touch with the struggles of average Americans. Wealthy politicians in the GOP have drawn major fire for a severe lack of empathy with anyone making less than $50,000 a year. Of course, this stereotype has — partially — been purposefully perpetuated by Democrats with record needles stuck in the billionaire Koch brothers’ groove. However, there are numbers to back up the fact that Democrats attract a much more diverse racial and socioeconomic crowd than Republicans do.

Hillary Clinton may have made an unfortunate misstep earlier this year in which she betrayed the extent to which she is not your average American. “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money wen we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy,” said Clinton in an ABC interview on her new book, indirectly suggesting her family could relate to the difficulties so many have been facing in America.

This led to an immediate flood of people pointing out her two homes — priced in the millions — and the fact that not many “dead broke” Americans could tour the country making hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single speech. A later interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America suggests that she certainly recognized her PR mistake, even if she wasn’t ready to eat her words. “Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today. It’s an issue that I’ve worked on and cared about my entire adult life. Bill and I were obviously blessed, we worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we have continued to work hard.”

She stuck to her insistence that she and Bill Clinton “have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have,” listing student debt and working while going through law school as example. While this is still arguably questionable relateability — does the average American go to law school? — it doesn’t seem to have taken her out of the game when it comes to public opinion.

The interview took place June 9, 2014, gaining a fair amount of attention. An NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll conducted later that same month (with a sample size of 592 adults and a margin of error around plus or minus 5.1 percent) showed that 57 percent still believed she could relate to and understand the problems that faced the average American just as well as other presidential candidates, while 37 percent said she couldn’t relate as well as other candidates.

Why did you dodge questions on immigration; currently one of the biggest issues for our country?

Hillary Clinton’s September visit to Indianola, Iowa drew a great deal of attention, especially given her “Hello, Iowa, I’m back” comment that reminded the crowd her last visit had been during the 2008 election. She dropped a few 2016 hints, including: “I’ve got a few things on my mind these days … It’s true, I’m thinking about it. But for today, that’s not why I’m here,” to the cheers of the crowd. “Too many people only get excited about presidential campaigns,” said Clinton, according to NBC. “Look, I get excited about those campaigns too,” she said.

There was one item she wasn’t so excited to discuss in Iowa, though, and that was immigration. When asked whether or not she agreed with Obama’s decision to wait on executive action for immigration reform until after the midterms, she responded with a short: “You know, I think we have to elect more Democrats.”

The second question — on whether or not deportations should continue — went unanswered. Realistically, commenting on this doesn’t benefit her politically in any way at this juncture. It would only have detracted from her main focus — honoring Iowa’s retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D) and drawing voters for the midterm battle — and would not have been aided by a discussion on immigration. The questions were specific to present day and Obama’s policy as well, so commenting on it would do nothing for her public perception; neither has bearing on what her own immigration policy might look like under whatever condition the U.S. is in 2016.

How would you handle the conflict with ISIL and can you restore confidence in Democrats?

President Barack Obama has taken some major criticism on his foreign policy strategy; specifically, that he’s been too careful and not forceful enough. “Obama has made America look weak,” wrote John McCain, for example, in an op-ed by The New York Times. Of course, John McCain was hardly likely to be positive about the president’s foreign policy efforts just before a midterm election, and there are many that argue a cautious and slow approach is preferable to an aggressive one at the moment. Looking at the current administration, it’s worth considering how Clinton would fair on major issues demanding attention at present — especially given the lack of confidence many have with the current Democratic administration.

Hillary Clinton was with many Republicans who said Obama should not have withdrawn from the Middle East without leaving behind a strong fighting force, and that he should have given greater aid to Syrian rebels. “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad — there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle — the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” said Clinton, according to The Atlantic.

Whether her plan of action would deviate far from Obama’s current plan of action specifically isn’t certain, but aides are pretty clear in claiming she’d be a more aggressive and certain on foreign policy than Obama has been. “You never want to be a Monday morning quarterback on these issues, because who knows how things would ultimately turn out, but Obama has been passive on these issues,” said a former Clinton aide, according to The Hill.  “She would have taken a more aggressive approach.”

A second aid reiterated the commentary. “She’s not gnashing her teeth the way we’re seeing time and time again with Obama,” the aide said. “It’s the very notion of decisiveness.”

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