Jeff Zeleny on Clinton’s Keystone Decision: She Felt the ‘Heat from All the Liberal Skeptics’

‘It’s politically expedient, no doubt about it’

COOPER: “There is more breaking news on the campaign trail. In Iowa today Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton made her position on the controversial Keystone pipeline public. Here’s what she said at a community forum in Des Moines.”
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CLINTON: “I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as, what I believe it is, a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change, and, unfortunately, from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward to deal with all the other issues. Therefore, I oppose it.”
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COOPER: “Former Secretary of State Clinton has been asked repeatedly where she stands on the pipeline. This is first time that she's actually answered. Now the project is still under the review in the State Department. That process started under her watch and continues under Secretary of State John Kerry. Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me now. How did she go from vehemently not commenting on the pipeline to suddenly commenting on the pipeline?”
ZELENY: “A tough summer, Anderson. I think that explains her shift better than anything else here. She’s been hammered for months about not being open, not being honest or trustworthy in part because she declined to take a stand on issues like keystone. Of course, she knows this so very well. She was part of the process as secretary of state. So, a lot of progressives and liberals wondered what was she waiting for? Of course, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley had a field day with all of this. At the end of July a voter in New Hampshire asked her about Keystone, and she said if it’s undecided when I become president, I’ll answer your question then. I remember being in that room at the town hall meeting and her answer fell flat. It fueled the notion she wasn’t being forthcoming. So this is all part of her fall rebuilding effort of her campaign, trying to answer questions and trying to look more open and transparent.”
COOPER: “But in terms — it also makes it, I mean, to I guess her critics, or to other people as just a political calculation, that she wanted to kind of take a poll to see before answering that question, because as you said, she was involved in it from early days, and the pipeline is something that Liberal Democrats, a base she’s fighting Bernie Sanders for, is pretty much vehemently opposed to, correct? So, if — if she’s trying to appeal to politics, then how — how big of a factor was that in her answer?”
ZELENY: “I mean, I think it was — almost entirely this. I mean nothing has changed the facts about -- Keystone has not changed. There’s no question the left wing of the Democratic Party is so strongly opposed to Keystone, one of the touchstone issues here. And quite simply she was feeling the heat from all the Liberal skeptics and critics. So, yes, it’s politically expedient, no doubt about it.”

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