Hillary Clinton’s day job in the Obama administration was international diplomacy, but she didn’t take her eye off the president’s chief domestic priority during his first term.
Newly released emails from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State show that she kept tabs on the battle over the Affordable Care Act, even chipping in to help rally votes on Capitol Hill to ensure its passage. The emails from Clinton’s personal account, which she used to conduct government business, were part of the latest batch to be made public under court order on Thursday.
Healthcare is an area of particular interest to Clinton – she tried unsuccessfully to expand coverage when she was first lady in the '90s.
In September 2009, she emailed Neera Tanden, a longtime colleague who was working in the Obama administration, to check on the issue.
"What is happening on that front? Is there a new strategy?" Clinton wrote. Then she added, "Let me know if I can help?"
Tanden, who worked on Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign before joining Obama’s team, responded wistfully.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think how different things would be on this issue if life had worked out differently,” she wrote. “I know you have admonished me to look forward, but on this issue of all issues, it is hard.”
Later in the month, Clinton and Tanden traded wonky emails about health policy – “why don’t they go w non-profit insurance companies instead of cooperatives,” the secretary wrote in critiquing legislative strategy.
As a final vote neared on the landmark healthcare proposal, a member of Clinton’s staff sent her talking points for calling members of Congress. First on the docket was Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) and a list of potential benefits to her Southern California district.
After Congress passed the bill and Obama signed it into law, Tanden looked for ways to make sure Clinton got some credit.
In a May 2010 email, she wrote that she was meeting with a New York Times reporter “to pitch him on how so many of your ideas are in the healthcare bill.” Tanden added, “Let me know if there’s anything else for this story that would be helpful.”
Clinton responded, “I will call you later.”
Tanden's loyalty to Clinton is evident in her emails. In January 2012, she sent her a note apologizing for a quote criticizing Obama's campaign for personal attacks on Clinton in 2008.
"My apologies if this is a problem," Tanden wrote.
Clinton didn't seem to mind.
"Well, the truth can hurt, can't it?" she wrote.