Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. talk over each other during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
By Debra J. Saunders
Monday, January 25, 2016 – Updated 8:15 pm
When Bernie Sanders hits rival Hillary Clinton for taking humongous speaking fees from big banks — notably the $675,000 Goldman Sachs paid her for three speeches while she eyed the Oval Office — he struck Clinton’s Achilles’ heel. Both the former secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have cashed in since they left the White House in 2000. The New York Times reported last year that the Clintons earned $139 million from 2007 to 2014. The Clintons’ focus on accumulating wealth clouds their judgment.
Start with a basic political fact: Many voters believe Wall Street got off too painlessly for its role in the financial collapse of 2008. Many Democrats blame big banks. So if you know you are going to run for president in the Democratic primary, you probably don’t want financial giants paying you five times the American median household income for one speech. It makes you look beholden to fat cats, because — Earth to Hillary — most human beings are grateful when someone gives them six figures for a talk.
“You don’t think they expect anything in return?” “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Clinton on Sunday. “Absolutely not,” Clinton answered. She said she took on the big banks as a U.S. senator.
A 2013 Politico story paints a different picture. After questioning attendees of a Clinton Goldman Sachs speech, Politico reported, “What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy — it needs to stop.”
To read expanded column, click here.