In talking up her husband’s ability to work with Republicans, Hillary Clinton made an observation last week that some have interpreted as a veiled criticism of President Obama.
The former secretary of state said at an event in Colorado that even though he faced a toxic political environment, former President Bill Clinton continually extended a hand to Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“My husband had some really serious problems with the Congress when he was in office,” Hillary Clinton said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “They shut down the government twice. They impeached him once. So it was not the most pleasant of atmospheres. But I will say this: Bill never stopped reaching out to them.”
The Journal’s Peter Nicholas highlighted that quote as an example of Clinton “distancing herself from President Barack Obama” ahead of a widely anticipated 2016 run. Nicholas also noted a comment Clinton made during a televised event on CNN last month.
“I mean, some people can paint a beautiful vision,” she said. “And, thankfully, we can all learn from that. But then, can you, with the tenacity, the persistence, the getting-knocked down/getting-back-up resilience, can you lead us there?”
The Huffington Post grabbed hold of that narrative, pairing this headline with the Journal piece.
Nicholas was careful to note that Clinton “hasn’t repudiated Mr. Obama” and that her “comments aimed at highlighting her differences with Mr. Obama are often implied rather than stated bluntly.”
Scroll to the bottom of the piece and you’ll find Clinton sounding far less critical (and cryptic) on the current president’s bipartisan record. Nicholas quoted Clinton at the Colorado event as saying that Obama has “worked so hard and reached out so often, and it gets discouraging because you don’t feel like you’re getting much back.”
“I don’t think you can ever stop. And I think that’s part of whoever the next president is just has to be ready to do,” she added.
Obama has been criticized for years by conservative and centrist pundits alike for not doing enough to build relationships with Republican lawmakers. The criticism has clearly annoyed Obama, who’s bristled at the idea that playing golf with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would alleviate Washington’s ills.