Clinton addresses trade group that fought Obamacare
October 15th, 2013
06:57 PM ET
6 months ago

Clinton addresses trade group that fought Obamacare

(CNN) –- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the putative frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, delivered a paid speech Tuesday to a trade association that strongly opposed President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, the signature achievement of his time in office and a long-sought goal of progressive movement.

Clinton spoke to roughly 3,000 members of the National Association of Convenience Stores, which is holding its annual conference in Atlanta.

The trade group represents the U.S. convenience store industry, a $700 billion annual industry representing both large chains and small “mom and pop” operations, as well as their suppliers around the country.

Clinton has long championed universal health care coverage, and she made insurance mandates a central plank of her health care reform agenda during her ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign.

But the NACS, as the trade association is more commonly known, fought against the Affordable Care Act when it was being debated in Congress, and the group’s lobbying arm continues to oppose the employer insurance mandate, a provision the Obama administration has delayed until 2015.

In 2009, when the bill was still in draft form in the House and Senate, John Eichberger, a lobbyist for the group, wrote in the group’s magazine that “an employer mandate is a threat to the industry and all businesses.”

Around the same time, NACS circulated a document to its members outlining its opposition to many of the bill’s “onerous” requirements and regulations, titled “The Top 15 Reasons the ‘Affordable Health Care For America Act’ Increases Costs, Limits Choices and kills Competition.”

Today, after the Supreme Court upheld the law, the trade association’s opposition to Obamacare is more narrowly focused on changing the definition of “full-time employee” under the employer mandate to one who works 40 hours a week, rather than 30.

“NACS opposed the ACA, and is presently working both in the administration and in Congress to ensure the law’s implementation will impose minimal burdens on convenience store owners and operators,” an issue page on the group’s website reads.

Clinton has addressed a range of interest groups since leaving the State Department in February of this year, and her speech to the association here should not be read as an endorsement of the group’s policy positions.

But in taking money from a business coalition that actively fought one of the Democratic Party’s landmark policy achievements, Clinton is showcasing the sometimes-awkward politics of the lucrative “buck-raking” circuit, in which public figures cash in on their celebrity by delivering paid speeches to a variety of private organizations.

Clinton, represented by the Harry Walker Agency, reportedly earns around $200,000 per speech, appearances that are usually closed to the media. Audience members at the Georgia World Congress Center on Tuesday were banned from recording video or sound of the speech, which included a question and answer session.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Clinton spent 25 minutes recounting the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, specifically highlighting Vice President Joe Biden's opposition to the mission. Clinton, who could face off against Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2016, stressed that she backed the raid.

America Rising PAC, a Republican group tracking Clinton's every move, flagged the comments for reporters yesterday, circulating them in an email titled, "Shots Fired: Clinton Attacks Biden Over Bin Laden Raid."

In the past year, Clinton has given paid speeches to industry groups including the American Society of Travel Agents, the National Realtors Association, the National Auto Dealers Association, and to executives from two blue-chip private equity firms, the Caryle Group and KKR.

That’s in addition to other unpaid speeches to charities, universities and awards dinners.

She does not make her full speaking schedule public.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to a request for comment about her Atlanta appearance.

The convenience store group Clinton addressed Tuesday has also lobbied against other policy initiatives favored by many Democrats, including regulation of the tobacco industry and union-friendly “card check” legislation.

Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the trade association, said NACS takes positions for and against a wide variety of federal issues – energy, health care, credit card swipe fees and others - on behalf of convenience store owners.

Focusing solely on the group’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act would be unfair to Clinton, he said, noting that both Republicans and Democrats have addressed the group.

“About half of our population shops at our stores every day, and they are voters,” Lenard told CNN. “You are just talking to people who are part of the American conversation.”


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. tom l

    Ol' Yeller

    @Data Driven "Hopefully, these folks are registered to vote."
    If they have their state ID, gun permit, and voter ID along with three other forms of photo ID. They will also need to show up at the polls between 2 and 4 on the third Friday after the full moon.

    Nope. Just either a state ID or driver's license. And polls would be open from 8am- 7pm (possibly some minor variances on that). That's it.

    October 15, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Marc

    So politicians should only talk with people who agree with them? Look where that got us! We have the tea party anarchists in Congress ready to bring down the good name of the U.S.A because they refuse to negociate. Kudos to Clinton for showing up.

    October 15, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Smart not restrict your speech making to your supporters in the "church choir." As President of the USA, Hillary Clinton will have to communicate and work with people and groups who disagree with her.

    October 15, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Thomas

    It's all about the money !

    Then again , maybe she can open a few closed minds .

    October 15, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. twinmom

    The only speech I want to hear her make is to come clean about what happened in Benghazi.

    October 15, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. Tom Mitchell

    As someone with really good insurance, why is it that so many people in this country want to deny access to affordable healthcare to their fellow citizens?

    October 15, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  7. Kenman

    Figures that she's milking her "fame" for cash, and that they don't allow media OR any recording! She'll be protected in every way possible by the liberal media establishment going forward to keep the citizenry as much in the dark as possible to her character, other than what we already know!

    But, they won't be able to create a total Manchurian candidate like they did with Obama, because there is a great deal of information out there already about the vicious, condescending, fuhrer in a pants suit!

    October 15, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  8. America, our country is bankrupt...cut the spending

    We don't have more money, we're $18 trillion in debt. Stop the Democratic party from bankrupting America. I'm joining the Tea Party to stop what Obama, Reid and Pelosi are trying to do to America.

    October 16, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  9. Petunia

    Clinton is a crook, but then they all are.

    October 16, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  10. Gwiz

    I guess they dont care about 20 million uninsured americans who cant afford it because of obamacare states like new york setup programs that are exactly like it where people like me can get healthcare regardless of health my health issues means i cant work which means i cant pay which means without obamacare id be dead think thats fair to me and others like me thank you president obama for having a conscience

    October 16, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  11. Johnny DC

    Typical of today's political climate and purpose. Get in bed with whoever is the next chief executive, and you are more likely to receive special treatment in the future.

    Today it's Obamacare exemptions, tomorrow it will be special exemptions from Clinton tax hikes.

    You see, libs, your party is just as bad as you paint the Republicans.

    October 16, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  12. bassman

    Convention officials banned all video and sound recording, social media, and naturally, journalists. Sarah Palin was attacked when she gave paid speeches by many CNN readers. Other reports have her sticking it to VP Biden by making sure everyone knew she was in favor of getting Bin Laden, while Mr. Biden was against it. You just cant get any more self-serving than that.

    October 16, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |