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Politics & Policy

Clinton’s Latest Defense on Wall Street Cash: Obama Did It, Too

After months of struggling to answer the accusation of her rival Bernie Sanders that her campaign’s coffers show how tightly she’s tied to Wall Street, Hillary Clinton hit on her latest comeback during Sunday night’s Democratic debate — President Obama took their money, too.

During the debate, Sanders was asked about an ad his campaign released last week, when he said there are “two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street” and only one of them included taking their money. Asked to explain the difference, the Vermont senator made it clear he was pointing to Clinton’s willingness to take millions from powerful financiers.

“I don’t take money from big banks,” Sanders said. “I don’t take personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”

Clinton came out swinging. “We disagree on the comments that Senator Sanders has made, that don’t just affect me, I can take that,” she said. “But he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street.”

“And President Obama has led our country out of the Great Recession,” Clinton continued, her voice rising. “Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing! He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary again President Obama.”

“Now I personally believe that President Obama’s work to push through the Dodd-Frank bill and to sign it was one of the most important regulatory schemes we’ve had since the 1930s,” she said. “So I’m going to defend Dodd-Frank, and I’m going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, and taking on the financial industry, and getting results!”

Sanders didn’t back down, explaining that while he campaigned for Obama in 2008 and 2012, “we have some differences of opinion.” And he doubled down on his criticism of Clinton, pointing out that she took $600,000 in speaking fees from Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs in the last year alone.

Clinton’s attempt to equate her own ties to Wall Street to President Obama’s is just her latest strategy to respond to Sanders’s own campaign finances, made up entirely of small-dollar donations. In another debate last November, she claimed her work to rebuild Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks was the reason behind her popularity on Wall Street — a claim that failed to resonate with most Democratic primary voters. 

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