Hillary Clinton On Southern Working Class Whites In 1995: "Screw 'Em"





During the past week, Sen. Hillary Clinton has presented herself as a working class populist, the politician in touch with small town sentiments, compared to the elitism of her opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.

But a telling anecdote from her husband's administration shows Hillary Clinton's attitudes about the "lunch-bucket Democrats" are not exactly pristine.

In January 1995, as the Clintons were licking their wounds from the 1994 congressional elections, a debate emerged at a retreat at Camp David. Should the administration make overtures to working class white southerners who had all but forsaken the Democratic Party? The then-first lady took a less than inclusive approach.

"Screw 'em," she told her husband. "You don't owe them a thing, Bill. They're doing nothing for you; you don't have to do anything for them."

The statement -- which author Benjamin Barber witnessed and wrote about in his book, "The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House" -- was prompted by another speaker raising the difficulties of reaching "Reagan Democrats." It stands in stark contrast to the attitude the New York Democrat has recently taken on the campaign trail, in which she has presented herself as the one candidate who understands the working-class needs.

"I don't think [Obama] really gets it that people are looking for a president who stands up for you and not looks down on you," she said this week.

But those who were at the event say the 1995 episode fits into her larger viewpoint. As Harry Boyte, the director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Democracy and Citizenship who was at the retreat, told The Huffington Post: "[Hillary Clinton] sees herself as the champion of the oppressed, but there is always a kind of good guy versus bad guy mentality. The comment before that was that 'the Reagan Democrats are our enemies and they weren't on our side,' and she was agreeing with that comment. She said we should write them off: screw them."



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