DENVER — Hillary Rodham Clinton is a hardworking champion of women, children and the poor. Or she’s a wealthy elitist more comfortable in Davos, Switzerland, than Davenport, Iowa.
Which is it? If Clinton decides to again run for president, how voters answer that question could play a role in whether she’s able to win the White House.
“They raised the bar on these issues with Mitt in 2012,” said Ron Kaufman, a longtime adviser to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose wealth and business record were targeted by Democrats. “Now their candidates for president have to get over the same bar.”
Perhaps the biggest news to come from the recent launch of Clinton’s memoir of her time as Secretary of State isn’t what the book says about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, but what she’s said about her personal finances while plugging the book.
It started with an interview with ABC News in which she said she and husband Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House in early 2001, grappling with millions of dollars in legal bills. Then came an interview with The Guardian, in which Clinton appeared to draw a distinction by saying her family paid an “ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off.”
The couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was pulled into the fray when Politico reported that she earned $600,000 a year at NBC News, where she has infrequently appeared as a special correspondent.
Those statements don’t mesh well with the fact the Clintons are, by almost any measure, quite wealthy, with an annual income that places them solidly among the top 1 percent of Americans. As secretary of state, Clinton’s financial disclosure report filed in 2012 showed the couple had an estimated net worth between $5 million and $25 million.