Clinton doubling down on transcripts
© Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page files defamation lawsuit against DNC Dems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE is doubling down on a strategy of not releasing transcripts of speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs and other investment banks.

Clinton has refused to release any of the transcripts in the face of a pressure campaign from rival candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump attacks ‘Crazy Bernie’ Sanders over Medicare plans Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports MORE, who has relentlessly attacked the Democratic front-runner as being too closely tied to Wall Street.


“She’s not going to basically create a standard that isn’t applied to anyone else in this race,” said one longtime Clinton ally and confidante of her position on releasing the transcripts.

The issue has been an effective line of attack from Sanders, who has closed the gap with Clinton in national polls.

It also appears to have hurt Clinton, who has seen her favorability rating in polls drop below 50 percent. Just as bad, Clinton has seen her marks fall with Americans when they are asked whether they trust her or see her as honest.

At the same time, Sanders is now coming under growing pressure to pull back on his attacks after Clinton’s big win in New York’s primary. Clinton defeated Sanders in her adopted home state by more than 15 percentage points, a victory that underlined her status as the Democratic front-runner.

Sanders has vowed to fight on but will hear criticism from his colleagues in the Senate if he continually demands that Clinton release the transcripts.

Clinton allies maintain that the issue around releasing the transcripts backfired on Sanders in New York. They also think Wall Street in general and the transcripts in particular won't be as effective an argument in the general election.

For one thing, Republicans as a party are seen as close to the financial industry. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, worked as a venture capitalist and was badly hurt by a remark, recorded surreptitiously, that 47 percent of Americans would not vote for him because they were dependant on government handouts.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O'Rourke will not share million he raised with other Dem Senate candidates Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE (R-Texas) received underlying loan from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup ahead of his presidential campaign. His wife Heidi has taken a leave from her position as a Goldman Sachs managing director.

“As Sanders fades, it becomes less critical,” one longtime adviser to Clinton says of the transcript issue. “The Republicans don’t have the same argument to make — at least half the Goldman Sachs room was probably Republican.”

Clinton has already previewed her line of attack on the issue against Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE, who remains the favorite to win the GOP nomination.

In an interview this month with The New York Daily News, Clinton said Trump gave lucrative talks to paid audiences, and that she would press him to release the transcripts.

“I have reason to believe that others have made some speeches of some interest,” Clinton said.

“I have reason to believe Donald Trump has, for money, for rather considerable amounts,” she said. “A lot more than I was ever offered.”

Brian Fallon, a senior spokesman for the campaign, underlined Clinton’s position in an interview with The Hill.

“If this is going to be treated as the new normal, she'll be happy to participate and make available anything she has when everyone abides by the same standard,” he said.

Republicans are promising that they’ll make Clinton’s ties to Wall Street an important theme in the general election regardless of their nominee.

“Clinton may win this primary, but she will do it by sidestepping — not answering — those tough questions that Sanders elevated to the daily political conversation,” said Jeff Bechdel, communications director for America Rising PAC, a Republican super-PAC.

“It's especially bad for Clinton because the transcripts have come to represent yet another piece of evidence that Clinton is untrustworthy. Her defensiveness over releasing the transcripts only serves to reinforce the idea that Clinton is a 'typical politician,’” Bechdel said.

Clinton allies, however, are confident the issue will fade once the primary is over.

“She’s not going to deny her rights as a private citizen when no one else is being held to that standard,” the Clinton ally told The Hill. “You have to stand your ground on this issue. There’s no other choice.”