Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail locking arms with former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders to tout debt-free college education. But Clinton has privately distanced herself from such promises and other progressive ideals championed by Sanders, instead describing herself as a “center-left to the center-right” candidate, according to a recently released audiotape.
Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, made the comments in February, at a private fundraiser in northern Virginia. The audio tape was purportedly included in a Clinton campaign staffer’s email that was hacked, then given to The Washington Free Beacon, which reported the story Friday.
In the roughly 49-minute tape, Clinton suggests the 2016 presidential race has been divided into two camps: the far-right “populist, nationalist, xenophobic, discriminatory kind of approach” espoused by many Republican candidates and Sanders’ democratic-socialist vision that includes “free college, free healthcare” and “go as far as Scandinavia, whatever that is.”
“I am occupying from the center-left to the center-right,” continued Clinton, who warned about over-promising potential voters.
She also characterized disaffected young Americans -- particularly the many college students who joined the so-called Sanders’ political revolution -- as “living in their parents basement” and feeling their post-graduate jobs are “not at all what they envisioned for themselves. … They don’t see much of a future.”
“If you’re feeling like you’re consigned to being a barista … then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing," Clinton also says in the audio tape, reflecting on a recent conversation with an African-American millennial.
The release of the tape comes at a difficult time for Clinton, who continues to struggle to connect with young voters and secure their vote.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 14 shows 55 percent of likely voters 18 to 34 voting for Clinton, compared to 34 percent for Trump, compared to a poll released a month earlier by the university that showed Clinton with 64 percent, compared to 29 percent for Trump.
With about five weeks to go before Election Day, Clinton holds a slight, single-digit lead over Republican rival Donald Trump, according to most recent polls.
Clinton, in the tape, also seems to suggest that some young voters are naïve about politics and the working world, saying, “Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession.”
Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin told FoxNews.com on Saturday: “As Hillary Clinton said in those remarks, she wants young people to be idealistic and set big goals. She is fighting for exactly what the millennial generation cares most about -- a fairer more equal, just world. … That’s why she worked with Sen. Sanders on a plan to provide students with debt-free college and it’s why she’s traveling the country listening to their concerns and talking about not only what’s at stake in this election, but her plan for the generation. …They’ve helped her craft and promote the most progressive platform in Democratic party history.”
The Clinton campaign also pointed to tweets by Sanders’ spokesman Mike Casca, who called at least one of the stories about the tape “misleading” and “completely inaccurate." "She's clearly saying she gets why Bernie's supporters are frustrated,” Casca tweeted Friday night after a story by Politico.
Also on Saturday, Clinton supporters argued the candidate has publically stated such a position several times this election cycle, including in the CNN debate last fall when she said, “We are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States Of America.”
Clinton said Wednesday at a rally with Sanders at the University of New Hampshire: “None of you have more at stake in this election than young Americans … Bernie and I are excited about what he can do together.”
Clinton said she wants a moratorium on repaying student debt and the debt to be “forgiven” for those who go into public or national service.