Hillary Clinton agreed Wednesday that being a capitalist likely damaged her 2016 campaign because nearly half of Democrats say they are socialists.
"Probably," Clinton said at the Shared Values Leadership Summit in New York City, after being asked whether support for capitalism hurt her at the polls.
"It's hard to know, but if you're in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists, or self-described socialists, and I'm asked, ‘Are you a capitalist?' And I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability,' you know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she's a capitalist.'"
Clinton won the Iowa caucus by a mere half-point.
The former U.S. secretary of state was challenged from the left during the Democratic primaries by self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont who repeatedly criticized her for being bankrolled by Wall Street and not going after capitalism and with the same hostility as the Democratic grassroots hoped for.
During the first Democratic debate in 2015, Sanders refused to identify himself as a capitalist.
“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little?” he asked. “By which Wall Street greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t.”
Clinton, meanwhile, offered a defense of capitalism, saying: “When I think about capitalism, I think about all the businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families … We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history.”
Following a short hiatus from promoting her election post-mortem book "What Happened," Clinton returned to political activities Monday, just six months before the midterm elections.
The former candidate attended a gathering of nearly a dozen progressive groups supported by Onward Together, the post-election political organization she founded that's aimed at “advancing the progressive vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election.”
“I don’t want to see us go backwards,” Clinton said. “But organized interests fueled by ideology and huge amounts of money are trying to take us backwards. So I feel as strongly today as I ever have that we all have to stand up and defend our country, and most importantly, our democracy.”