A Slip of the Tongue? Bill Clinton’s praise for Romney’s business career signals what’s to come in 2016.
When former President Bill Clinton said Mitt Romney, the co-founder of the private equity firm Bain Capital, “had a sterling business career,” folks were flummoxed.
What was his agenda? Why was he defending private equity bankers—the people Texas Gov. Rick Perry once called “vulture capitalists”?
“He’s laying the groundwork for Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016,” Ralph Nader told the right-wing news magazine The Daily Caller. “He wants to appear with Hillary as very friendly to business. He operates out of New York City. He doesn’t want to alienate Wall Street.”
Clinton learned long ago not to defecate where he eats.
In 1980, 34-year-old populist Gov. Bill Clinton battled Arkansas Power and Light Co. and other business interests. That year, he lost his bid for re-election to Frank White, an investment banker backed by Arkansas’ corporate establishment. Michael Kelly wrote in the July 31, 1994 New York Times Magazine that this experience taught Clinton that “to be successful, a politician had to appear hugely concerned with bettering the lives of ordinary citizens but had to be careful to avoid acting on those concerns so aggressively that they threatened the interests of the business elite.”
In 1985, Gov. Clinton (he was re-elected in 1982) institutionalized that lesson by co-founding the Democratic Leadership Council, a corporate-funded party-within-a-party established to counter the Democrats’ liberal wing. In 1990 and 1991 the governor served as the group’s chairman. In 1996, now-President Clinton addressed a DLC gala and praised “the truly stunning array of business leaders who are here today,” who “fought for the life and future of the Democratic Party