'dead broke' remark prompts partisan pushback
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[June 11, 2014]
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Accused of being out
of touch after making comments about her finances, likely presidential
candidate Hillary Clinton headed for a speaking engagement on Tuesday
that could earn her up to $250,000.
Clinton's address to food trade groups in Chicago comes as she
takes heat for comments that her family was "dead broke" when it
left the White House in 2000, despite the considerable income she
and former president Bill have earned subsequently along with the
luxury real estate assets they have managed to acquire. Her annual
salary as secretary of state was $186,600.
"Between their million-dollar mansions in New York and Washington
and her ridiculously expensive speaking fees, it's clear nobody
could be more out of touch than Hillary Clinton," said Republican
National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox.
The fuss over her comments in an ABC News interview released Monday
overshadowed the launch in New York on Tuesday of Clinton's latest
book, "Hard Choices," seen as a prelude to a campaign for the 2016
The early favorite to win that race, Clinton made no reference to
her finances in remarks at a midtown Manhattan book store where
hundreds gathered for signed copies of the book. Some had lined up
outside all night.
She made conciliatory comments on Tuesday, telling ABC's "Good
Morning America" that she appreciates "how hard life is" for many
After the book event, Clinton was to fly to Chicago to address a
food conference at a joint session of the United Fresh Produce
Association and the Food Marketing Institute, two trade groups.
Similar speeches have likely earned her up to $250,000 each since
she left the State Department last year, according to sources
familiar with speaking fees for public figures.
Her Chicago address is sponsored by Wonderful Brands, the makers of
POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, which is owned by longtime
Democratic donors Lynda and Stewart Resnick.
Liberals have criticized Clinton for taking money from financial
institutions, including Goldman Sachs, for speeches they say make
her beholden to big business.
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Polls show Clinton would win the Democratic nomination if she wanted
it. But her obvious wealth combined with her sometimes clumsy
attempts to appear as a normal citizen are a weak point, said Julian
Zelizer, a professor of political history at Princeton.
"This has always been a challenge for Clinton, who is perfect on
paper but often fails to connect. She needs to be honest with voters
and not try to be someone different. In the end she needs to realize
that her genuine self is probably her greatest selling point," he
By the time President Clinton left the White House, he had
outstanding legal fees of around $4 million, according to press
accounts at the time.
But the Clintons' federal tax returns indicate they paid those debts
by 2004 after income from speaking tours by Bill and Hillary’s
memoir "Living History," which reached $1.1 million in 2002 and
another $2.28 million in 2003.
(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; editing by Prudence Crowther)
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