Interviewed Hillary biographer Amie Parnes of The Hill today on Hillary’s vaccine flip-flop:
HH: Joined now by Amie Parnes. She is the senior White House correspondent for the Hill. She is the co-author of the best biography out to date on Hillary Clinton, HRC. She is available on Twitter @amieparnes, Amie, welcome back. My first question is former Secretary of State Clinton found time to go on Twitter yesterday to talk about vaccines. Has she said anything about the Jordanian pilot or ISIS?
AP: She hasn’t. I think, Hugh, what you’re seeing is you’re seeing her sort of weigh in on the things she wants to weigh in, even though the vaccination situation isn’t exactly where she wants to be. You know, she was in the camp of oh, we need to see where autism how autism is connected to this. And then now she’s basically backtracking. And I think she was trying to needle her Republican, her potential Republican opponents a little bit by going after them on this, and saying that she’s on the right side, or at least what she thinks is the right side of the issue.
HH: Has she flip-flopped on the vaccine issue?
AP: Oh, I would say that she has. She has a little bit, because you saw her when she was a Senator sort of take a different approach. You know, but a lot of people at the time were. Senator Obama was at the time where he basically was trying to make the case that autism could be related. And so you know, I think that now that some research has shown that it’s not, I think she has sort of come out on the opposite end. And she’s taken some heat for it.
HH: Now flip-flopping dogged Mitt Romney. Is it going to dog Hillary Clinton, because this is neither the first nor the last time she will flip-flop on an issue.
AP: Oh, Republicans are going to no doubt go after her on everything from health care to Benghazi to, you know, and she has records on all these things from when she was a Senator, putting Benghazi aside. So you know, and also when she was first lady, so I think everything is fair game. You’re going to see her sort of backtrack on a couple of issues. We saw her do that on Iraq already. And who knows where else she’ll go with that?
HH: So Amie, the other big question, though, is she obviously has a Twitter account, and she uses it when she wants to, when she wants to endorse the President’s immigration executive order, when she wants to endorse the President’s state of the Union speech, when she wants to flip-flop on vaccines. But then a major event, the ISIS burning alive of the Jordanian fighter pilot, she’s silent. Isn’t that itself problematic in a campaign when you want to be coronated?
AP: I think what she’s trying to do is, and this is one reason why her camp doesn’t want to get involved, or jump in the race so quickly, and why we’re seeing that she might not launch her campaign official until July, she doesn’t want to get into the middle of these issues already. She doesn’t want to be in the middle of the fray, if you will. And so she’s avoiding this while she can. She’s, it’s getting increasingly harder and harder for her, because people want to know what she feels about these issues, and she’s going to feel this pressure and a lot of heat from people as soon as she gets closer to even launching a preliminary campaign to weigh in on these issues, because I think people want to know, and they deserve to know.
HH: Well, when you play hide and seek Hillary, I think that creates a second story, not just the flip-flip story. But if you’re playing hide and seek, I’ll come out and talk on this, but I won’t talk on that, I won’t do any serious interviews, that creates a problem about fragility. Is she that worried about her inability to connect with the public, Amie, that she has to hide until July?
AP: I don’t think she’s that worried about the public, but I think what she is worried about is the tenaciousness, or the infighting and all of that that takes place in a campaign, and how people will go after her on anything. And I think one of her big fears, and why she wants to take as long as she’s taking, is because she does want to make, she does want to sort of go through and take her time and know where she is on these positions and on these policies, and sort of come out, you know, stronger than she would have if she would have come out a little sooner.
HH: But no doubt in your mind she has flip-flopped on the vaccines?
AP: I think she has. I think she’s backtracked a bit, but I think a lot of people have. But I think people, I think it’s going to be an issue for her. People are going to call her out on it a bit.
HH: And any doubt in your mind that she is definitely waiting until July?
AP: That’s funny. I have a feeling, you know, when I talk to people, and my sources in her camp, what I think she’s going to do is sort of have a pre-launch in April where she makes is known that she’s running, but you won’t, and she’ll use the time between April and July to sort of plan her campaign, make hires, and do a lot of office work. But you won’t really see her hitting the campaign trail hard, or going to these places like Iowa until maybe July.
HH: And in terms of President Obama and his Iran policy, can she stay on the sidelines as he leads us towards a historic either breakthrough or debacle?
AP: It’s going to be increasingly harder for her to, also, because she was his secretary of State, and she had a role, she played a role in Iran sanctions, and she admits that. So I think no, I think as soon as, you know, we’re already seeing people hit her pretty hard on these issues. They want to know where she is, especially because she was his secretary of State. And she is going to be held accountable for that and those decisions. So I think she’s going to be pressed more and more, increasingly, on foreign policy in particular.
HH: Amie Parnes, senior White House correspondent for the Hill, co-author of HRC, follow her on Twitter @AmieParnes.
End of interview.