Hillary Clinton has been dinged by both liberals and conservatives for declining to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. But on Monday, her Keystone dilemma will be on full display as she helps raise money for people on both sides of the issue within hours of each other in New York City.
The former secretary of state and likely 2016 presidential candidate will raise money for Sen. Mary Landrieu, the embattled Louisiana Democrat who linked her political future to Keystone ahead of a runoff election. But she’ll also boost the League of Conservation Voters, a deep-pocketed environmental group that has been fighting the pipeline – and Landrieu’s bill – tooth and nail on Capitol Hill.
As secretary of state, Clinton oversaw the permitting process for the pipeline, which would carry tar sand oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Citing her past role, Clinton has abstained from weighing in on the issue. It’s nowhere in her recent memoir about her time as America’s top diplomat, “Hard Choices,” and she has dodged questions about it in two countries.
There’s little upside for her in taking a position. She’s bound to disappoint someone either way, as her dueling events on Monday demonstrate. And she might be able to just wait it out and let President Obama make the decision for her.
But her silence has come with a price. On the environmentalist left, groups like MoveOn.org have demanded that Clinton take a position, while the Republican super PAC America Risng suggested her evasiveness was “disqualifying.”
That tension will likely re-emerge Monday.
First, there’s the event for Landrieu, who was forced into a runoff election against Republican opponent Bill Cassidy, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Two weeks ago, in a last ditch effort to save her seat, the oil state Democrat tried to push a bill through the Senate approving the pipeline. The vote divided her own party and created tense, down-to-the-wire drama in a body that casts few close votes these days. She ultimately fell one vote short, and is trailing badly in the polls back home.
But Clinton is hoping to give Landrieu a last-minute boost – or at least be on the record supporting the senator in her hour of need. Clinton campaigned in Louisiana for Landrieu before Election Day, and now will hold a high-dollar fundraiser for the senator at the Upper West Side home of major Democratic donors Sarah and Victor Kovner. The minimum ticket price is $1,000, while prices go up to $12,600, according to the New Orleans Times Picayune.
Meanwhile, at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, Clinton will speak at the annual fundraising dinner of the League of Conservation Voters Monday night.
Like other environmentalist groups, the group opposes the Keystone pipeline. It wrote letters to senators last month urging them to reject Landrieu’s pro-Keystone bill. “We will strongly consider including votes on this bill in the 2014 Scorecard,” LCV president Gene Karpinski warned to lawmakers. Groups like LCV use their scorecard to inform how much money they spend for or against lawmakers in the next election. They did not support Landrieu.
Clinton is probably unlikely to take a position on Keystone anytime soon, but that doesn’t means she won’t keep getting asked about it.
In late January, Clinton will speak in Winnipeg, Canada, where she can expect to be asked once again about the pipeline, which is a national priority in the country.