The question about what Hillary would run on seems to be getting at least one answer: More and more she’s talking like an anti-Wall Street populist. (Polls of Democratic voters, especially in all-important Iowa, show real concern about her credentials for this claim.)
So far it seems that someone who could be helpful to that effort isn’t buying it — Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Clinton did her best last week to heap praise on the Massachusetts Democrat, and echo the fiery professor’s popular appeals for economic fairness – which has made Warren a rock star on the midterm campaign trail.
“I love watching Elizabeth,” Clinton said on the stump in Massachusetts. “You know, give it to those who deserve to get it. Standing up not only for you, but people with the same needs and same wants across our country.”
Clinton called Warren a “passionate champion for working people and middle class families” during a stop for the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts governor, Martha Coakley.
Warren was at the same stop, but took off before Clinton could get the photo opportunity that she surely wanted. And in her own stem-winder bashing big banks Warren was not nearly as gushing in return: “I’m happy to welcome Secretary Clinton back to the commonwealth. We love it.”
Also last week, on CNN, Warren seemed to reject any notion that Clinton can be counted among the party’s anti-Wall Street wing. Asked if the ex-New York senator is too close to the financial sector, she said:
“I have said I worry about everyone who is too close to Wall Street. When I describe what this is about, it’s about who does government work for. I worry everywhere.”
When People magazine recently tried to get Warren to talk about her relationship with Clinton she was about as reticent as it gets: “We have talked. It’s not much more than that. Not much more.”
A Telling Reversal
For some history on the ideological gulf between the two, consider a 2004 video interview recently released by The Bill Moyers Show. Warren describes how Hillary reversed herself on a pro-business bankruptcy bill that Warren considered unfair to consumers. As First Lady in the 1990’s Clinton heeded Warren’s pleas to persuade Bill to veto the bill — a move Clinton boasted about in her autobiography.
But once joining the Senate, Clinton gave in to intense pressure from credit card companies, and voted for a revived version of the bankruptcy bill she had once so proudly opposed.
“As Senator Clinton, the pressures are very different,” Warren told Moyers. “She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.”
By the way, when running for president in 2007 Clinton left out that Senate vote for the bankruptcy bill when citing her earlier work against it as First Lady, calling it evidence that she “fought the banks.” Warren must really be seething about that.
Clearly, Clinton’s effort to shed her Wall Street ties for Warren-style populism lacks the convert she might need most: Warren herself.