- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2015

One week into her presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun recalibrating her 2008 campaign stances and seeking to put some nuanced distance between herself and President Obama, hoping to find a balance that will keep her positioned for both a Democratic primary and a general election.

Her nascent campaign said she now supports same-sex marriage and wants the Supreme Court to overturn state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. On immigration, Mrs. Clinton’s operation told The Huffington Post that she supports driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, steadying herself after a stumble from her last presidential campaign.

On same-sex marriage, Mrs. Clinton is following the evolution of Mr. Obama, who also opposed gay marriage in the 2008 campaign but has since said that he has re-evaluated and now believes the law should recognize same-sex marriages.

Maybe most consequentially, Mrs. Clinton, who in the past praised free trade, broke with Mr. Obama last week when her campaign said she wasn’t sold on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the president is negotiating.

“She will be watching closely to see what is being done to crack down on currency manipulation, improve labor rights, protect the environment and health, promote transparency, and open new opportunities for our small businesses to export overseas,” the campaign said.

Campaigning in Iowa, Mrs. Clinton also began to draw more narrow distinctions with the president. For one, she expressed an openness to allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines — something Mr. Obama left out of his massive health care overhaul.

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Republican hopefuls and Mrs. Clinton’s potential opponents for the Democratic nomination said the calibrations were more political than ideological shifts.

“The takeaway here: nothing is authentic in Clinton World,” the Republican National Committee said in a memo summing up Mrs. Clinton’s first week as an official candidate.

Mrs. Clinton’s surrogates fanned out across the Sunday political talk shows to insist that she is authentic.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said she was “warm and engaging, compassionate and tough.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton backer whose 2013 campaign in Virginia was seen as a testing ground for a Clinton campaign operation, said the Republicans’ focus on pointing out Mrs. Clinton’s shifting positions is good for her politically.

“That’s great. Let them do it. From my perspective, every second they are not talking about how we move this great nation forward is great for Hillary Clinton,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “Let her lay out her positive agenda. It’s what I did when I ran for governor of the commonwealth of Virginia in 2013. We had a historic win.”

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Mr. McAuliffe called Mrs. Clinton’s campaign rollout “spectacular.” He countered Republican suggestions that it seemed scripted by saying Mrs. Clinton talked with voters and took notes on what they were saying.

Mrs. Clinton’s potential opponents for the Democratic nomination, meanwhile, struggled for recognition as they hit the talk shows. The hosts repeatedly asked them how they would stack up against the former first lady and pleading with them to draw distinctions.

For the most part, they backed off invitations to attack, saying instead that they would leave it to voters to sort out the Democratic field — though not without some gibes.

“People are going to decide,” former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia told CNN’s “State of the Union. “They’re looking real hard at everyone. I think we have got a lot of incumbent fatigue in the country. And I think people are looking for fresh approaches in terms of how to solve the problems of the country.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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