5 ways 2008 Hillary Clinton clashes with modern Democratic Party

CNN  — 

The Democratic Party has changed since Hillary Clinton last ran for president, forcing the 2016 favorite to play catch up on a number of issues that are important to her party’s liberal base.

But some of Clinton’s newly outlined views are different than ones she backed during her 2008 run, causing Democratic critics to call her out for “hedging” and flip-flopping on the issues.

Here are five issues where Clinton’s 2008 views are out of step with the current mood of her party.


Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama supported same-sex marriage in 2008, but Clinton has been slower than most Democrats to fall in line with the majority of her party who see same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

In 2007, Clinton argued in favor of civil unions with full equality of benefits, but said that the right to marriage was something that should be left to the states. She reiterated that policy last year, after four years removed from domestic politics atop the State Department, telling a National Public Radio host that same-sex marriage was “a matter left to the states.”

But last week, while traveling through Iowa on her first campaign trip, a campaign aide said in a statement that Clinton now views same-sex marriage as a “constitutional right.”

Clinton’s personal shift on marriage mimic the way popular opinion has shifted on the issue. In 2008, according to a Gallup survey, 40% of American supported recognizing same-sex marriage, while 56% said they should not be. Those numbers had flipped by May 2014, when 55% support same-sex marriage and 42% did not.


A majority of Americans – not just Democrats – support legalizing marijuana. And according to Gallup, 73% of self-identified liberal Americans said it should be legal in their 2014 poll.

Clinton doesn’t agree. The former secretary of state backed medical marijuana in a CNN town hall last year, but told Christiane Amanpour that she wants to “wait and see” how legalization goes in the states before making it a national decision.

Later in the year, Clinton labeled marijuana a “gateway drug” where there “can’t be a total absence of law enforcement.”

During her 2008 run, Clinton was for medical research into the benefits of marijuana, but not decriminalization.

“I think we should be doing medical research on this,” Clinton said in October 2007. “We ought to find what are the elements that claim to be existing in marijuana that might help people who are suffering… I don’t think we should decriminalize it.”

This could present a problem for Clinton. Marijuana legalization provided some of the only wins for Democrats during the 2014 midterm elections and many in her party’s base want to go big on the issue in 2016.


No other issue has loomed over the Clintons’ relationship with liberals as much as trade has.

Much to the ire of labor leaders, former President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. Union members, though generally supportive of Clinton’s presidency, see this as the moment when blue collar wages began to stagnate.

Clinton has been unclear on trade in the past. She supported NAFTA as first lady and wrote glowingly about it in her 2003 memoir “Living History.”

But during her 2000 run for Senate and her 2008 run for president, Clinton began to sour on free trade and NAFTA.

“NAFTA and the way it’s been implemented has hurt a lot of American workers,” she said during a 2007 AFL-CIO forum. “Clearly we have to have a broad reform in how we approach trade.”

Years after NAFTA, now liberals are activated by an even bigger trade deal in the works – the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

As secretary of state, Clinton supported passage of trade pact as a tool for connecting the United States to developing nations like Vietnam. During a trip to Korea in 2011, she called for “as few barrier to trade and investment as possible.”

Clinton, however, has seemingly backed away from those statements. On Friday, her spokesman put out a statement that took a wait-and-see approach on the deal, stating that Clinton will be waiting to see if the trade agreement passes a number of barriers free trade deals must meet.

Driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

Hillary Clinton was against giving undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses in 2008. After equivocating on the issue during a primary debate, Clinton later said that, as president, she would “not support driver’s licenses for undocumented people.”

Fast forward to 2015, when much of her party – especially the liberal base – support a whole host of laws that back undocumented immigrants ability to work and live in the United States. A campaign spokesman said last week that, “Hillary supports state policies to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.”

Clinton has also been supportive of President Barack Obama’s executive action to overhaul the immigration system and make it easier for children and their parents to live in the United States without fear of prosecution. “Parents & Dreamers shouldn’t live in fear,” Clinton tweeted last week.

Wall Street reform

In the reaction to economic downturn , the Democratic Party has grown more populist since Clinton last ran for president, with liberal leaders like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders calling for stepped up Wall Street reforms and taxes on top earners.

Clinton has looked to tap into this populism, ratcheting up her talk of expanding the middle class and her focus on “everyday Americans.”

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she said in her campaign rollout video. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion – so you can do more than just get by – you can get ahead.”

But many liberals doubt her commitment to cracking down on Wall Street, primarily because of her many ties to the nation’s financial institutions. Her most ardent liberal critics regularly note that Clinton’s top Senate donors were Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, three of the country’s top financial institutions.

Clinton’s campaign looked to quell those before they got too loud when they selected Gary Gensler as the campaign’s chief financial officer, according to Bloomberg. Gensler is the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and known for being tough on Wall Street.