President Bill Clinton was a renowned centrist and had been called one of the best Republican presidents the U.S. has ever had.
Will Hillary Clinton move to the right or will she listen to her left-wing base?
Months before Hillary Rodham Clinton started giving Democratic primary voters a liberal-minded message about a “stacked deck” in favor of the wealthy and the need for criminal-justice reform, she met at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan with four powerful labor leaders, according to The New York Times.
There, in February, she treated representatives of the biggest teachers’, service employees’ and government workers’ unions to a seafood dinner and a lengthy discussion of policy issues. Her meaning was unmistakable: She wanted them to feel like an important part of her coming campaign.
On Tuesday, Richard L. Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., gave an address aimed ostensibly at any White House contender. He urged candidates for president to resist “cautious half-measures.”
He also called for “a commitment, from the candidate down through his or her economic team,” to steer a progressive agenda to completion. A senior labor official later called it the most important line in Mr. Trumka’s speech.
According to The New York Times, Trumka was repeating an argument that liberals have made to Mrs. Clinton and her team more bluntly in private: they do not wish to see the likes of Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers – both “centrist” former treasury secretaries to Bill Clinton – become part of her circle.
It is unclear how Mrs. Clinton will react to these types of demands. A senior campaign aide said to The NYT only that she receives a range of policy advice.
Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-proclaimed socialist, said he would seek the Democratic nomination.
The push and pull between Mrs. Clinton and the liberal base may become an obstacle or a source of tension for Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton welcomed Mr. Sanders into the race, even as she works to deny Mr. Sanders or any other liberal an issue on which to bloody her from the left.
She and her top aides have begun an aggressive charm offensive, calling, emailing, meeting and dining with scores of progressive officials and activists. John Deeth, a well-read blogger in Iowa City (“the People’s Republic of Johnson County,” he joked), said that Matt Paul, Mrs. Clinton’s Iowa director, called him after she announced.
“Mostly he listened,” recalled Mr. Deeth, who said he would probably remain neutral in the primary.
With Big Labor opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, Mrs. Clinton’s staff has been in touch with Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who has been battling President Obama over the agreement.
“People are seeing that the Democratic Party is again standing for things,” Mr. Brown said of the energy on the left, though he added that he was not ready to commit to Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy and had “zero” interest in a presidential bid of his own.