- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her political flip-flops Tuesday night, kicking off the initial Democratic presidential debate by saying she keeps her principles while changing her specific stances.

“Actually I have been very consistent over the course of my entire life — I have always fought for the same values and principles,” she said.

“But like most human beings, including those of us who run for office, I do absorb new information, I do look at what’s happening in the world,” Mrs. Clinton said, singling out the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal which she supported as the country’s top diplomat, but last week announced she now opposes because she’s finally seen the final details.

While not mentioning any of his fellow candidates, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee kicked off Tuesday’s initial Democratic debate saying he’s proud he’s served three decades without any scandals.

“I have high ethical standards,” Mr. Chafee said in introducing himself — possibly to many voters not familiar with the obscure politician making a long-shot bid for the White House.

He led off a unique field, where only two of the five candidates on the stage in Las Vegas have been Democrats for most of their adult lives: Mrs. Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

SEE ALSO: 21 most consequential Clinton scandals, ranked from most important

Mr. Chafee was a Republican senator before becoming an independent and now running for the Democratic nomination, while former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia served in the Reagan administration before running for Congress as a Democrat. Sen. Bernard Sanders, meanwhile, has served for decades in Congress as an independent.

Mrs. Clinton, in her opening statement, portrayed herself as a fighter for the downtrodden, vowing to do more wealth transfer through the tax code, as well as raising the minimum wage.

“At the center of my campaign is how we’re going to raise wages,” she said.

Mr. O’Malley had vowed to wrap himself in President Obama’s cloak, but delivered a critique on the slide of the middle class under the Democratic president.

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