Centrist Dems wary of Hillary’s move to the left

Centrist Dems wary of Hillary’s move to the left

Moderate Democrats are worried about Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Exit polls show more women breaking with Republicans MORE’s recent embrace of liberal policies.

After positioning herself as a centrist and steely potential commander in chief in the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton has shifted.

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Clinton is now to the left of President Obama on the federal minimum wage. While Obama has endorsed a $10.10 hourly rate, Clinton has signaled support for more than doubling it, to $15 an hour.

The former first lady says same-sex marriage should be a constitutional right and endorsed Obama’s executive action shielding millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. She wants broad reform of a criminal justice system and calls for automatic voter registration.

Red-state Democrats in Congress don’t want Clinton to lose sight of a broadly appealing economic message that can win over white working-class voters who have deserted the party in droves recently.

“It’s important that she has an economic platform that people can get on board with regardless of what state they live in,” said Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair Mellman: The triumph of partisanship VA under pressure to deliver Trump reforms MORE (Mont.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.  

“Be everywhere — Montana, Missouri, everywhere,” Tester added. 

Centrist Democrats say Clinton should broaden, not narrow, her approach.

“I don’t think you write anything off. You show that you’re not afraid and you show the ability to go into an area, and it will help lift spirits,” said Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Mellman: The triumph of partisanship Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle MORE (D-W.Va.). “I always do visit all 55 counties in my state. So when I ran statewide, I didn’t give up on certain counties and never visited. So you don’t give up on anybody.”

It is very common for presidential candidates to move closer to their base in the primary and shift back to the center in the general election. But Clinton’s strategy suggests she needs to shore up more of the base and is responding to pressure from liberal leaders such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNearly six in ten want someone other than Trump elected president in 2020: poll Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Merkley seeking to change Oregon law so he can run for president and Senate in 2020: report MORE (D-Mass.).

Still, moderate Democrats are particularly concerned about Clinton’s potential effect on state legislative races in Republican dominated states. They worry if she stays away from solid-red states, they will have a hard time winning down-ballot races that could shape the congressional districts of the future.

Some were alarmed when The New York Times reported that she is discarding the nationwide electoral strategy that her husband employed in the 1990s to win Southern states such as Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee.

The Times reported she is poised to “retrace Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaO'Rourke receives invite to visit Iowa from Democratic Party in Des Moines Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Mattis defends border deployment, likens it to 1916 effort against Pancho Villa MORE’s far narrower path to the presidency” by focusing on the liberal base in a handful of battleground states in the Midwest and West instead of persuading undecided voters.

They fear a reprise of the failed electoral strategies of John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFormer Pentagon chief: Trump 'let down our country' by skipping WWI cemetery visit due to rain Tensions shadow Trump's France visit Kerry to Fox News host: Veterans fought so you could be a 'complete fool on Twitter' MORE in 2004 and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Schumer tells Trump to stay out of Florida recount Rick Scott fundraises off Trump claim that Dems are trying to steal election MORE in 2000, who poured their resources into a handful of swing states instead of attempting to widen the playing field by playing offense in traditionally Republican territory.

“The election to look at was in 2004. John Kerry had conceded 227 electoral votes before Election Day. That means George Bush only had to get 43. That is the danger you run into. It took Al Gore down in 2000. You can’t concede but so much. I don’t think you concede anything. I think you battle them everywhere,” said David “Mudcat” Saunders, a Democratic strategist who specializes in reaching white, working-class voters.

Saunders says Kerry blundered by suspending campaign operations in seven states — Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado — after winning the Democratic nomination in 2004. It didn’t help, he added, that Democrats decided to nominate him at a convention held in liberal-leaning Boston.

While Clinton might not have much hope of winning in Louisiana, Missouri or South Carolina, strategists argue that making a good-faith effort in those states can help candidates down ballot.

“The problem you got is the state legislatures. Take South Carolina for instance. In 2016 they’re going to have house elections and senate elections in their statehouse. If the Democrats don’t play there, it doesn’t increase turnout. Turnout in all cases always helps the Democrats in those areas,” Saunders said.

Clinton’s current chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO'Rourke receives invite to visit Iowa from Democratic Party in Des Moines Senators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis Bernie Sanders: 'We have a president who is a racist' MORE, has aggressively pushed a 50-state strategy for more than a year.

Last year he met with activists, unionized workers and college students in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. This month he wrote a letter to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling for presidential debates in red states.

“By expanding the scope geographically of debates beyond the early calendar states we can begin to awaken activism at the grassroots level in those states and signal to Democrats and progressives in places like Texas, Mississippi, Utah, and Wyoming that their states are not forgotten by the Democratic Party,” he wrote.

Rep. David Price (N.C.), one of only a handful of white Southern Democrats left in the House, said, “I agree with what people in the so-called red states are saying about the down-ballot effects. A successful president is going to have to have some support from those states and members elected from those states.

“There’s a stake for the presidential candidate in spending a reasonable amount of time in non-blue-state areas,” he added.

The Clinton campaign, which did not comment for this article, has not publicly acknowledged giving up on a 50-state strategy.

It unveiled a nationwide organizing effort in April with a video in which Clinton vowed “there’s gonna be campaigns in all 50 states and we’re gonna need as many people as we can to volunteer, to sign up, to help us organize because I need your voices to be speaking out.”

Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthCongressional panel scales back bipartisan budget reform proposal Republican record on economy proves party is choice for jobs Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips MORE, a Democrat from Kentucky, said he has heard Clinton already has a field director in his home state.

He believes Clinton has a chance of winning Kentucky, which her husband carried twice; he urged her to visit.

Some Democrats, however, argue that Clinton won’t alienate voters in Southern states if she pushes immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

“In my district we have over 100 languages spoken in the public school system. It’s become a very diverse population,” said Yarmuth. “We have a huge thoroughbred breeding operation and thoroughbred breeding industry that relies heavily on immigrant labor. The people of Kentucky understand how important immigration reform is.

“Voting rights are important everywhere. Gay marriage is an issue right now that doesn’t move voters away from somebody,” he added.