Voters' Unfavorable View of Clinton Warns Democrats of Trouble Ahead

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about counterterrorism, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at the Bechtel Co
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks about counterterrorism, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at the Bechtel Conference Center at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hillary Clinton, like Donald Trump, is viewed unfavorably by a significant majority of voters. In the latest CBS/New York Times poll, Clinton has an unfavorable rating of 52 percent, almost as high as Trump's 57 percent. For both Clinton and Trump, these are historically high negatives for presidential candidates since CBS first polled this question in 1984. Other polls and exit polling have consistently shown that the voters don't find Clinton trustworthy or honest. This voter distrust also shows up in the polling data when she is matched against the Republican presidential candidates.

In contrast, Bernie Sanders scores higher than any other candidate - Democrat or Republican - on these measures of trustworthiness and honesty. Sanders also receives far more support from Independents than does Clinton. As a result, national polls, such as the CBS/New York Times poll, now show Sanders running much stronger against Trump and all the other Republican candidates than does Clinton. This most recent poll indicated Sanders beating Trump 53 - 38, while Clinton's margin is smaller at 50 - 40.

A Quinnipiac national poll released on March 23 reported Sanders beating Trump 52 - 38, while Clinton's lead is under 50 percent at 46 - 40. The Quinnipiac poll has Clinton's unfavorable percentage at 56 and Trump's as 61, while Sanders' unfavorable is 37.

Republicans have indicated concern about how front-runner Trump is viewed by the voting public. Likewise, the voters are sending clear signals that Clinton may jeopardize the Democrats ability to win in the general election - making her a weaker candidate than Sanders would be in November.

In addition to the public's mistrust related to Clinton's decision to use a private email server while Secretary of State, the public is rightfully concerned about the $21.6 million Hillary Clinton took during 2013-2015 in speaking fees from Goldman-Sachs, and other Wall Street firms and special interest groups. When asked to release the transcripts of those speeches, Clinton deflects by saying every candidate should have to release transcripts of paid speeches. That dodge does not fool anyone, however, and raises more concern that there is something in those speeches that she clearly does not want the public to see.

The eventual Democratic candidate for President in 2016 must be viewed as trustworthy and honest by a strong majority of the voting public if the Democrats are to retain the White House. Clinton has an obligation to do everything she can to reassure the public that no time bombs are hidden in the transcripts of her paid speaking remarks - that she refuses to disclose.

We know the transcripts exist - Clinton herself required a transcript to be made and paid for by each speech sponsor - and then required that the only transcript copy be turned over to her. It is not a question of whether the transcripts exist - they do. The only question is whether she will release them for the public - as she should.

CNN has reported that the Clintons together have taken $153 million in speaking fees since 2001 - 15 percent of a billion dollars. The most effective way for Clinton to improve her trustworthiness and honesty standings with the voting public is for her to take the following actions on these speaking fees:

Release the transcripts and contracts for the Goldman-Sachs, other Wall Street firms and special interest group speeches. The voters should know before the Democratic nomination is settled what Clinton actually said to earn as much as $300,000 for an hour speech. The Las Vegas Review-Journal, through the Nevada state public records law, obtained a copy of the Clinton contract for a UNLV Foundation October 2014 speech. The contract stipulated that a transcriber was to be provided and paid for, with the only transcript copy provided solely to Clinton herself. The contract also specified many other details, including the type of private airplane to provide transportation, a presidential suite in the hotel, and expenses for at least four aides who would be part of her traveling party. The contract and transcript for this and every other paid speech should be released to the public.

Disclose all speech payments made to former President Bill Clinton since he left office. The country has never faced the possibility of having a former President in the White House while his spouse serves as President, and who previously served as Secretary of State. Full disclosure of speaking fees would make it clear that no potential conflicts of interest exist as a result of payments made to him.

Disclose all Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global initiative contributions from foreign governments, Wall Street firms, corporations, special interests, other foundations, and individuals. Although some disclosure has been made of contributions, the public deserves full disclosure of the facts -- exact contribution amounts and dates on which contributions were made. These details are needed in order to determine that there are no conflicts of interest with the timing of State Department actions made during Secretary Clinton's tenure, as was required by the White House when Hillary Clinton was appointed.

A specific example is the $2.5 million former President Clinton took in speaking fees from corporations and trade groups that were lobbying the State Department near the time when the speaking fees were paid to him, as reported by the International Business Times.

Disclosure of the information noted above, would provide the public with the information needed to determine that there is no reason to be concerned about what Hillary Clinton said to Goldman-Sachs and other Wall Street and special interest groups. The information would make it clear that there are no hidden conflicts of interest that might be revealed during the course of what is sure to be a very hard-fought general election campaign.

It would reassure the voters that Clinton is worthy of public trust and will be an honest representative of their interests.

Leadership requires one to take responsibility for one's actions and have a forth right dialogue with the public the candidate is seeking to lead. Hillary Clinton can only demonstrate this leadership by taking responsibility -- and fully disclosing the facts related to the vast amounts of special interest money that she and the Clinton family have taken personally and for their foundations.