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Ear to the Ground

Hillary Clinton Talks Income Inequality, Critics Don’t Buy It

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Posted on Jun 24, 2014

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Every presidential election cycle heats up quicker than the last, with the dismaying inevitability of Christmas marketing in May. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Democrats’ likeliest 2016 shoo-in candidate, Hillary Clinton, is making noises on her book tour that also lend themselves well to campaign talk.

However, two recent sound bites she issued on the topic of the growing income gap in America have grabbed the attention of her detractors, prompting her husband to jump in and try to clear her path back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. CNN assessed the situation in a report Tuesday:

Clinton’s first misstep came when she told ABC at the start of her book tour this month that she and her family “came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt,” adding later that her family had “no money” at that time.

She wasn’t wrong when she said the first family left the White House way behind financially. She said they were burdened by legal bills and still had to keep a roof—actually two—over their heads and send their daughter to college.

But here’s a mighty big difference between Clinton and the average person.

For starters, she and her husband were obviously well positioned to quickly capitalize on the post-presidential custom of cashing in.

She left that part out.

Hillary Clinton had a massive book advance in the works and, along with the former president, the prospect of making millions. This is what fueled cries of hypocrisy.

After quickly trying to clean up the comments, though, Clinton swung and missed again on Sunday when questioned about her own financial standing and wealth inequality in an interview with The Guardian.

Enter Bill Clinton, stage left, for a little damage control (via The Washington Post):

The Clintons joined forces at an annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative America on Tuesday to talk about approaches to reduce the gap between the rich and poor — a potent issue within the Democratic party — and harness corporate and non-profit know-how to hire and mentor struggling young workers.

The former president, in an on-stage interview with NBC News, defended the former first lady’s commitment to the poor and working Americans, saying his family’s post-presidential wealth had not diminished Mrs. Clinton’s understanding of the economic plight of many U.S. families.

“She’s not out of touch,” Mr. Clinton declared, noting that in law school his future wife sought legal assistance for the poor and later advocated for paid leave for new mothers during the 1970s.

Not surprisingly, the former president added that the intense attention on his family’s personal finances at this moment threw the focus on “the wrong debate.” We’ll see if that sticks.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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