Excerpts of Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street institutions, divulged by WikiLeaks late on Friday, show why the Democratic presidential nominee was reluctant to have them publicized during her primary battle against populist rival Bernie Sanders.
In the lucrative speeches, for which she was paid some $225,00 a pop, Clinton signaled support for a plan that would lower corporate tax rates while raising the Social Security age; admitted she was out-of-touch with regular Americans; explained how politicians "need both a public and a private position;" and embraced a strong pro-trade position that could conflict with remarks she's made on the campaign trail.
The excerpts were contained in an email sent from Clinton research director Tony Carrk to campaign chairman John Podesta and other senior aides, with a note that "[t]here is a lot of policy positions that we should give an extra scrub with Policy."
WikiLeaks said the cache came from Podesta's email account.
In one revealing excerpt, from a 2014 speech at a Goldman Sachs-Black Rock event, Clinton discussed being "kind of far removed" from the struggles of the middle class, saying:
I am not taking a position on any policy, but I do think there is a growing sense of anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged. And I never had that feeling when I was growing up. Never. I mean, were there really rich people, of course there were. My father loved to complain about big business and big government, but we had a solid middle class upbringing. We had good public schools. We had accessible health care. We had our little, you know, one-family house that, you know, he saved up his money, didn't believe in mortgages. So I lived that. And now, obviously, I'm kind of far removed because the life I've lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy, but I haven't forgotten it.
She also lamented as "onerous and unnecessary" requirements that political candidates divest from certain assets and sell stocks before entering government, saying "there is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives."
On more than one occasion, she spoke of how bankers should take a leading role in shaping financial regulations, saying in 2013, "the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry."
And on trade, Clinton told a Brazilian bank in 2013: "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders...We have to resist, protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade."
Furthermore, Slate reported:
Some of Clinton's other attempts to position herself as a centrist might trouble progressive Democrats as well. At one point, she tells a crowd at Xerox that America needs "two sensible, moderate, pragmatic parties," which in these sorts of settings comes off as code for "pro-corporate." And at a Morgan Stanley get-together, she says the framework and big elements of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, loathed by many progressives because of its cuts to the welfare state, "were right."
Still, as The Intercept points out, "there are signs in the emails released by WikiLeaks that she also took a fairly progressive stance on certain topics, including health care reform":
During a talk in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2013, Clinton praised the single-payer model for health care reform. "If you look at the single-payer systems, like Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere, they can get costs down because, you know, although their care, according to statistics, overall is as good or better on primary care," she said, adding that there were some drawbacks. "They do impose things like waiting times, you know."
But during the campaign this year, she dismissed the idea, declaring that single payer will "never, ever" happen in the U.S. Audio obtained by The Intercept last week showed Clinton dismissing the concept of free health care during another private event with donors.
Beyond the speech excerpts, Politico reports, "the emails affirm the campaign’s reputation for extreme caution, with an eagerness to proactively influence news coverage. Whether it's plotting the candidate's response to an early attack on influence peddling at the Clinton Foundation or writing jokes for an Iowa dinner speech, ad hoc committees—often incorporating advice from Bill Clinton—are shown agonizing over wording and tone. Under fire, they're determined 'not to look beleaguered,' as one aide put it."
The leak comes after the U.S. on Friday accused Russia of hacking political organizations in an effort to influence the presidential election. The Clinton camp cited that accusation in its official response, with Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin stating Friday: "Earlier today the U.S. government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy. We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange, who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton."