NATIONAL (VFB) – “Absolutely Not!” was Hillary Clinton’s response this morning when asked by Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd if the millions of dollars she has collected in speaking fees from Wall Street might influence her decision making.
TODD: As you know, your opponent, Senator Sanders has been hitting you on Wall Street contributions, and including some paid speeches that you did for Goldman Sachs, among other banks. Let me ask you this. Why do you think one of these big banks paid you over $200,000 for a speech?
CLINTON: Well, look, I gave speeches to a wide array of groups, from healthcare groups to auto dealers and many, many more. And I think what they were interested in, because what we talked about was the world. Coming off of four years as secretary of State, in a complicated world, people were interested in what I saw, what I thought, they asked questions about the matters that were on their mind, a lot of interest in the bin Laden raid, how such a tough decision was made and what I advised the president. You know, I think Americans who are doing business in every aspect of the economy want to know more about the world. I actually think it’s a good conversation to be having. And–
TODD: You don’t think they expect anything in return?
CLINTON: Absolutely not.
Clinton’s opponent Senator Bernie Sanders, who continues to hold leads in the most recent Iowa and New Hampshire polls, has remained critical of those who take huge sums of money for giving speeches to Wall Street.
“Goldman Sachs also provides very, very generous speaking fees to some unnamed candidates. Very generous,” Sanders recently told a crowd in Iowa. “Now I know that some of my opponents are very good speakers, very fine orators, smart people. But you gotta be really, really, really good to get $225,000 a speech. That’s all I’ll say.“
Sanders has a point for a couple of reasons. First, most Americans don’t make $225,000 in several years or even a lifetime of work, let alone for one hour of talking. Second, what the heck is she saying that Goldman Sachs is willing to pay that kind of money to hear? Clinton recently pledged to Rein in Wall Street. Does anyone really believe that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary hundreds of thousands of dollars to talk about reining them in? Or throwing them in jail?
It certainly would be interesting to know what Clinton talks to Wall Street bankers about. But this weekend when asked if she would release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton just cocked her head back and cackled.
It’s pretty clear that Clinton is proud of her Wall Street connections that give her millions of dollars. Her public love affair began last year when at the second Democratic Debate she cited the terrorist attacks on 9/11 as the reason why she takes millions from the financial industry.
Wait, Hillary Clinton's answer is Wall Street supports me because 9/11?
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 15, 2015
Hard to overstate how little sense Clinton's "I take contributions from Wall Street because they got hit on 9/11" argument makes.
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) November 15, 2015
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) November 15, 2015
Earlier this week Clinton defended her Wall Street ties to the Des Moines Register, telling that editorial board, “Anyone who thinks they can buy me doesn’t know me.” That may be true, but now with all of this tough talk about jailing bankers and reining in Wall Street, Clinton may want to revise her remarks before the next trip to Goldman Sachs.
With all this "Reign in Wall Street" talk, Hillary might have to tread lightly the next time Goldman Sachs pays her $250,000 to speak.
— Tyson Manker (@mankerlaw) January 7, 2016
For the record, Bernie Sanders also collected speaking fees last year. For two paid speeches and a television appearance, Sanders was compensated $1,867.42, which according to financial disclosure reports he donated to a non-profit called Northeast Kingdom Community Action that helps low-income families in Vermont.
As far as taking money from Wall Street and multinational corporations goes, Sanders doesn’t. And he’s the only one.
We don't represent billionaires, Wall Street or the big drug companies – we don't want their money and we will succeed without them.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 24, 2016