Obama, Bill could ham­per Hil­lary bid

White House run re­quires self-defin­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

If she runs for pres­i­dent, Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton may find her­self not only hav­ing to dis­tance her­self from Pres­i­dent Obama, but she will also have to put some space be­tween her­self and her own hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, on ev­ery­thing from mar­i­juana pol­icy to im­mi­gra­tion.

Pol­icy dis­agree­ments be­tween Mrs. Clin­ton and her hus­band, how­ever mi­nor, could be­come a ma­jor story as the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race heats up. It’s al­ready clear there is day­light be­tween the two on, among other things, in­fa­mous NSA leaker Ed­ward Snow­den, con­demned by the for­mer sec­re­tary of state but de­scribed as an “im­per­fect mes­sen­ger” in an im­por­tant de­bate by the 42nd pres­i­dent.

Then there’s Mr. Clin­ton’s own his­tory dur­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing his ramp­ing up the war on drugs, sign­ing the De­fense of Mar­riage Act against gay mar­riage and sign­ing into law a harsh crack­down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion — all of which Mrs. Clin­ton will have to grap­ple with, es­pe­cially in Demo­cratic pri­maries.

Mr. Clin­ton re­cently tried to mop up those is­sues for his wife, stress­ing his sup­port for same-sex mar­riage and say­ing the DOMA law he signed is un­con­sti­tu­tional. He’s also made clear he sup­ports the com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill that passed the Se­nate last year, an ap­par­ent evo­lu­tion on the is­sue.

In per­haps his big­gest re­ver­sal, Mr. Clin­ton has de­clared that the war on drugs has not worked. He also re­cently voiced sup­port for med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

“I think there’s a lot of ev­i­dence to ar­gue for the med­i­cal mar­i­juana thing. I think there are a lot of un­re­solved ques­tions,” Mr. Clin­ton said dur­ing a re­cent ap­pear­ance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” pro­gram, adding that he be­lieves the le­gal­iza­tion ex­per­i­ments in Colorado and Wash­ing­ton should go for­ward.

Mrs. Clin­ton has ex­pressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments, though some ad­vo­cates for le­gal mar­i­juana say the for­mer sec­re­tary of state has been more cau­tious in her state­ments about the med­i­cal ben­e­fits of pot.

Still, those ap­par­ent re­ver­sals may not be enough for some who re­mem­ber how Mr. Clin­ton’s ad­min­is­tra­tion dou­bled down on the war on drugs by step­ping up do­mes­tic en­force­ment and seek­ing to rein in narco gangs in Colom­bia and else­where.

Those ef­forts, he re­cently ad­mit­ted, have failed, leading some to note the irony of Mr. Clin­ton’s past po­si­tions on drugs ver­sus his po­si­tions to­day.

“It’s a lit­tle rich, con­sid­er­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tual ac­tions,” said Tom An­gell, chair­man of the Mar­i­juana Ma­jor­ity, which ad­vo­cates for med­i­cal mar­i­juana use and the full-on le­gal­iza­tion of the drug.

Mrs. Clin­ton “is prob­a­bly go­ing to get asked about the things that hap­pened dur­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion, and that could be prob­lem­atic,” Mr. An­gell added. “To be clear, that was her hus­band’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, and she shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be blamed for those ac­tions. But it wouldn’t shock me if she was asked about them.”

By Mrs. Clin­ton’s own ad­mis­sion, there are other dif­fer­ences, though she’s de­clined to go into de­tail.

“I prac­ticed law for a long time, and there’s such a thing called the mar­i­tal priv­i­lege, where you do not tes­tify against your spouse,” she told CNN in an in­ter­view last month when asked about dis­agree­ments with her hus­band.

Jennifer Law­less, di­rec­tor of the Women & Pol­i­tics In­sti­tute at Amer­i­can Univer­sity, said with a de­ci­sion on run­ning for pres­i­dent still months away, Mrs. Clin­ton doesn’t yet have to en­gage in de­tailed pol­icy dis­cus­sions about where she and her hus­band dif­fer.

“Un­til she an­nounces she’s run­ning, she re­ally doesn’t have to de­ter­mine what her clear po­si­tion is on any­thing that hasn’t al­ready been put out there,” she said. “I don’t think it’s smart at this point for her to en­gage in a lot of dis­cus­sion about the nu­anced dif­fer­ences she might have with her hus­band or any other Demo­cratic leader.”

While slight pol­icy dif­fer­ences over Mr. Snow­den, mar­i­juana and other is­sues have emerged, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts say Mr. Clin­ton also could be­come a “li­a­bil­ity” on the cam­paign trail were he to com­mit a high-pro­file gaffe that dom­i­nates the head­lines and takes the at­ten­tion away from Mrs. Clin­ton.

That was the case in Jan­uary 2008, when Mr. Clin­ton drew neg­a­tive at­ten­tion to him­self and his wife’s cam­paign on the heels of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s pri­mary elec­tion win in South Carolina.

The for­mer pres­i­dent pointed out that the Rev. Jesse Jack­son won South Carolina twice, in 1984 and 1988, leading some pun­dits to spec­u­late that Mr. Clin­ton was dis­miss­ing Mr. Obama as a “black­only” can­di­date who had no real shot of win­ning.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial run could be com­pli­cated due to her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

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