July 25, 2016

Heading Into DNC, Trust Issues Continue To Plague Clinton

As America gets to know Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Hillary Clinton’s newly announced running mate, liberals within their party are expressing their unease about Kaine over a number of issues, ranging from abortion, to guns, to climate change, to trade. This morning, they added another: his cozy relationship with the financial industry.

Critics specifically pointed to two recent letters released last Monday, which had been signed by Mr. Kaine, suggesting he may be inclined to ease regulations on midsize and smaller American banks. The letters were sent to regulators just days before Mrs. Clinton announced her choice of Mr. Kaine.

“Let’s be really clear: It should be disqualifying for any potential Democratic vice presidential candidate to be part of a lobbyist-driven effort to help banks dodge consumer protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director for Democracy for America, an organization founded by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Gov. Howard Dean. Mrs. Clinton’s choice, Mr. Chamberlain said, would make their “work more difficult.”

This criticism is particularly bad for Team Clinton since her close ties to Wall Street were a frequent attack line made by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the bruising Democratic primary.

But as Chamberlain noted above, the “lobbyist-driven” culture supported by Clinton and Kaine is an abrupt shift from the Obama administration’s policy to freeze out lobbyists. This “thaw”—Clinton brought in more than $9 million bundled donations from registered lobbyists (and Kaine has received more than $400k from lobbyists, too)—is completely at odds with where her party stands on the role of lobbyists in DC:

President Obama campaigned heavily against special interests in 2008 and put in place several new policies limiting their service in his administration. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) banned lobbyist contributions, and lobbyists began complaining of a stigma — a “scarlet L” — being attached unfairly to their industry.

And this gets at the very heart of Clinton’s core problem: trust.

Half of Clinton’s own backers say they consider her only slightly or not at all honest, and more than one-third say she’s only slightly or not at all likable, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted this month.

“I’m not excited,” said Matthew Mousley, 36, of Springfield, who nevertheless plans to support Clinton. “I guess, it’s just, I feel like there should be better options.”

It’s a worry for Clinton’s top aides, who see maximizing Democratic turnout as a main campaign challenge.

Clinton may have picked Kaine because she thought he was a “centrist,” but the fact of the matter is her party has moved so far to the left that she has risked the already shaky footing she had among those who distrust her to begin with.