Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE is ready to run on President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE’s record when it comes to the economy.
Clinton allies say that if the former secretary of State does in fact announce a second bid for the presidency this year, they expect that she’ll tether herself to a main slice of Obama’s legacy.
A series of economic reports including Friday’s positive jobs numbers is adding to Democratic confidence that the economy will finally be a winner for Obama in his last two years in office, and that it will help the Democratic White House candidate in 2016.
But even as Clinton embraces Obama’s economic record, they expect her to telegraph that more needs to be done to help the middle class, a message Obama will highlight in his State of the Union address later this month.
They also predict that Clinton will present policies distinct from those of the Obama administration she served, and even her own husband’s administration, which is regularly credited with presiding over years of strong economic growth.
This tack, allies say, will allow her to to carve out her own identity and provide her with the opportunity to speak about education, making housing more affordable and helping younger Americans find jobs and build her own narrative.
“She'll be running armed with the current information and with programs and plans and polices that she wants to support,” said Ellen Tauscher, the former congresswoman who serves as undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs at the State Department under Clinton.
Democratic strategist Jim Manley said that he expects Clinton to “keep pretty close to the administration’s basic economic policies. But, he added, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she found ways to exploit the growing debate on economic equality.”
One longtime Clinton ally agrees with that sentiment. This source said Clinton would argue for “a Main Street platform that combines certain kinds of tax reform, trade agreements and investment strategies, perhaps fashioned around overarching goals.”
“This is an approach that a Republican candidate could choose to take too; what will matter is who does it best,” the ally said.
Republicans—from the RNC to the superPAC America Rising-- are already working to portray Clinton as a third term for Obama.
“She has no choice but to own the Obama economic agenda because she has been in lock-step with him on it ever since 2008,” Tim Miller, the executive director for America Rising, said Friday.
Miller said healthcare will fall under Obama’s economic package and Clinton has no choice but to own that piece as well. The bookHRC State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, revealed that the secretary of state played a role in pushing along Obamacare. She voiced her support for it in a cabinet meeting and spoke to lawmakers about the issue, even though Secretaries of State rarely get involved in domestic matters.
“He took her healthcare plan and then she whipped votes for it,” Miller said. “There is no path for her to distance herself from him on it.”
Clinton allies say they are aware that Republicans will do everything to tie her to Obama's policies.
But as Tauscher cautioned, Republicans have to be careful invoking that Clinton could be a third term Obama because Democrats could very easily say that Jeb Bush or other Republican candidates could be a third term for George W. Bush, who was president during the economic meltdown.
The Democratic National Committee was quick to strike back at Jeb Bush’s intentions to run for president on Friday, putting out a release accusing the Bush team of being “the same people who not once but twice were at the helm as our nation headed into recessions, one of which was our worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
The plan to embrace Obama’s economic record differs from Clinton’s approach to Obama on foreign policy.
Even though she serves as Obama’s secretary of state, she has made a point of highlighting her differing views and strategies on Syria. In an interview with The Atlantic, she said that the administration’s decision not to get involved in the Syrian conflict was a “failure.”
People in Clintonworld have also signaled recently that she would have taken a different approach to ISIS.
“You never want to be a Monday morning quarterback on these issues because who knows how things would ultimately turn out but Obama has been passive on these issues,” one former Clinton aide told The Hill in September. “She would have taken a more aggressive approach.”
When it comes to the economy though, Clinton could face a different set of challenges in a Democratic primary.
Progressives have bashed her support of Wall Street and have insinuated that she cares more about protecting the well-heeled over the middle class.
But Tauscher pushed back at that notion calling that debate “distracting.”
“The question should be how do we get a Main Street thriving and doing well and how do we get a responsible Wall Street that is stimulating jobs,” she said. “It’s not an either or.”