Hillary Clinton Clashes with Arkansas on C-130s
A flap over the transfer of eight C-130 transport planes makes clear Hillary Clinton isn’t in Arkansas anymore.
The former first lady of Arkansas doesn’t want more cargo planes moved to the Little Rock Air Force Base at the expense of her new home state of New York. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a Democrat U.S. senator representing New York, has been speaking with Rep. Vic Snyder, a Democrat whose district includes the air base. Snyder says Clinton is doing her job by standing up for New York and is not trying to hurt Arkansas. “They took a big hit, and it’s painful up there,” Snyder said. “Hillary loves Arkansas. She loves the Little Rock Air Force Base. She loves the people of Arkansas.”
As part of nationwide realignments, the Defense Department proposes moving eight C-130s from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in New York to the base in Jacksonville, north of Little Rock. The Arkansas base is the military’s major training center for the cargo planes and plans call adding nearly 4,000 jobs there. But Clinton says the Pentagon should keep the eight planes where they are. She has characterized the proposal as putting “all our eggs in one basket” and called it a mistake.
Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines says the senator taking a stand against moving the planes should not be interpreted as a slap at her former home state, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday. “Senator Clinton lived in Arkansas for 15 years, was deeply honored to be the state’s first lady and will always be proud of the work she did on behalf of the state,” Reines said. “She believes that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station plays a critical role in supporting our national defense and our homeland security and is fighting hard to keep this important installation open.”
Sen. Clinton: Keep C-130s From Arkansas (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 26) $
Looking out for her constituents in New York has put Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in direct conflict with her old state Arkansas.
She has characterized a plan to consolidate the C-130s in Arkansas as putting “all our eggs in one basket” and called it a mistake.
The Arkansas congressional delegation disagrees. But that hasn’t kept the two sides from talking. Since the base-closing recommendations were announced, Sen. Clinton has been on the phone talking with Rep. Vic Snyder, the Democrat whose congressional district includes Little Rock Air Force Base. Snyder said Sen. Clinton was doing her job by standing up for New York.
Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., also understands where his Senate colleague is coming from – but disagrees, Pryor spokesman Rodell Mollineau said. “Sen. Pryor understands that Sen. Clinton has to do what she has to do to protect her base,” he said. “But that being said, Little Rock Air Force Base is the premier training facility for C-130s, and it makes perfect sense militarily for the C-130s to come to Little Rock.”
While Sen. Clinton emphasized to New York reporters that she had nothing negative to say about Little Rock Air Force Base, two political observers said Wednesday that it was clear she had shucked her Arkansas background. “We here in New York don’t really consider her as ever really tied to the state of Arkansas. She doesn’t talk like a Southerner,” said Christopher Malone, political scientist at Pace University in New York City. He added that the fight over military bases put her in a difficult position. “That’s between a rock and a hard place. She has to fight for her constituency in New York and has to fight against her old constituency.”
But Malone said Sen. Clinton has been skillful at shedding “previous lives.” She has gone from first lady of Arkansas to first lady of the United States to a new identity in New York. “It’s a fascinating transformation she has gone through. She’s formed an identity of her own,” Malone said. He added, “Part of her identity change has been to cut ties not only with Arkansas, but with her husband, who was president.” The political scientist recalled that one reason Sen. Clinton doesn’t speak much about Arkansas is that she has had to shed a “carpetbagger” image – coming from out of state to run for the Senate in New York five years ago.
Similarly, pollster John Zogby of New York said: “I don’t know if Hillary has an Arkansas identity or a New York identity. She is Hillary.” As for her previous Arkansas identity, Zogby said, “It’s been a long time now, if ever.”
Quite right. The conflict with her former “home” state is somewhat amusing but Clinton is doing exactly what a Senator representing New York would be expected to do. Frankly, she is unlikely to carry Arkansas in 2008, anyway.