7 Ways Hillary Clinton Has Distanced Herself From President Obama

Clinton's opposition to TPP is the latest in a series of breaks with Obama.

October 08, 2015, 1:04 PM
PHOTO: Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, at an event on Aug. 26, 2015 in Ankeny, Iowa and President Barack Obama speaks at the Phoenix Awards Dinner on Sept. 19, 2015 in Washington.
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, listens during her introduction at an event on Aug. 26, 2015 in Ankeny, Iowa and President Barack Obama speaks at the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the 45th Annual Legislative Black Caucus Conference at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Sept. 19, 2015 in Washington.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

— -- Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly over the course of her campaign that she’s not running for President Obama’s third term. And as outsider candidate Bernie Sanders surges in the polls, and a possible run by Vice President Biden looms, Clinton appears to be increasingly casting herself as different from the Obama administration.

In the past month alone, the Democratic presidential candidate has split with her former boss five times on key policy issues, including, most recently, her decision to oppose the president's controversial trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she once championed as secretary of state.

Here are seven ways Clinton has already distanced herself from the White House in the past six months as a candidate.


Clinton thinks that while President Obama has “done a lot” on immigration, his deportation laws have been has too “harsh and aggressive.”

"The deportation laws were interpreted and enforced very aggressively during the last six and a half years, which I think his administration did in part to try to get Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, “Clinton said Monday during an interview with Telemundo. "It was part of a strategy. I think that strategy is no longer workable. So, therefore, I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”

Clinton’s criticism is in contrast to what she said in a 2014 CNN interview where she defended Obama on this same issue. “We have to understand the difficulty that President Obama finds himself in because there are laws that impose certain obligations on him,” she said.

The Obama administration deported fewer immigrants in the past 12 months than at any time since 2006, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press this week.

Even so, Obama has been dubbed “Deporter-in-Chief” by some immigration advocates for the record-high number of deportations under his administration.


Clinton has also split from Obama with her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling.

"I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it I; a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change and, unfortunately, from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with all the other issues. Therefore, I oppose it,” Clinton explained last month about the controversial pipeline that would stretch from Canada through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast.

In addition, over the summer, Clinton spoke out against off-shore drilling in the Arctic Ocean one day after the Obama administration gave Shell the go ahead to drill for oil and gas there.

Both Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley had been vocal opponents on the two issues for months.


Clinton, who says she wants to “build on” Obama’s Affordable Care Act, recently called for the repeal of the plan’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health plans offered by employers.

“I encourage Congress to repeal the so-called Cadillac Tax, which applies to some employer-based health plans, and to fully pay for the cost of repeal,” Clinton said in a statement. “My proposed reforms to our health care system would more than cover the cost of repealing the Cadillac Tax, while also reining in skyrocketing prescription drug costs and out-of-pocket expenses for hard-working families.”

One week earlier, Sanders had also called for repealing the tax, which is known to be largely unpopular with labor unions and big corporations.


While Clinton often says Obama “doesn’t get the credit he deserves” for increasing job growth, she also thinks the economy has “stalled.”

“We’re stalled economically and we know that states, families, everybody is under pressure for all kinds of reasons,” Clinton said during a campaign event last month.

She added later: "I think we’re stalled. And I think the Great Recession knocked a lot of people down.”

Asked about Clinton’s belief that the economy has stalled, White House press secretary Josh Earnest pushed back: “It’s not,” he said.

In June, Clinton unveiled her own economic plan, focused on increasing wages for the middle class.


In one of Clinton’s biggest breaks yet with the White House, the Democratic front-runner Wednesday came out against the president’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, saying, “what I know about it as of today I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.”

Clinton’s opposition to it puts her on the side of Democratic presidential challenger Sanders, who is firmly against the deal and calls it “disastrous” for consumers and U.S. job creation.

Obama, a fierce supporter of the deal, says the partnership "levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.”

Prior to being a presidential candidate, Clinton made comments that seemed to be in support of TPP. In her 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices,” Clinton called it “a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia.”


Clinton has recently called for a no-fly zone in Syria, something the Obama administration has said it will not pursue.

"I do believe we should be putting together a coalition to support a no-fly zone,” Clinton said at a campaign stop Monday. "It’s complicated, and the Russians would have to be part of it, or it wouldn’t work. But we have to make a strong case for it.”

On this issue, Clinton takes a position that many of her Republican presidential challengers do, including Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

Sanders, however, released a statement saying he stands with the president here and opposes the no-fly zone.

When asked about Clinton’s decision to support a no-fly zone, Obama said: “Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems. She was obviously my secretary of state. But I also think that there's a difference between running for president and being president.”


Clinton hasn’t taken any direct swipes at Obama when it comes to his governing style, but she has made subtle attempts to cast herself as someone who may be a more effective fighter.

(One of the criticisms many Democrats have of the president is that while he champions policies they care about, he hasn’t been able to effectively implement his agenda.)

Clinton wants voters to believe that won’t be her problem, and often highlights her tenacity and experience.

“I know how hard this job is. I have seen it up close and personal,” Clinton said in her official launch speech at Roosevelt Island in New York in June. “Lord knows I have made my share of mistakes. There's no shortage of people pointing them out, and I certainly have not won every battle that I have fought, but leadership means perseverance and hard choices.

“You have to push through the setbacks and the disappointments and keep at it. I think you know by now that I have been called many things by many people. Quitter is not one of them.”

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