BALTIMORE — They weren’t ready for Hillary, and now they’re definitely not ready for her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.
The activists who fueled Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ presidential bid last year and who have become the raging heart of the party as it seeks to rebuild itself, shudder at the thought of the 36-year-old daughter of the former president and secretary of state searching for a race of her own.
“Chelsea needs to go away,” said Guinevere Boyd, a 49-year-old from Alaska who attended a Democratic National Committee forum this weekend. “She has nothing to offer. She has said some horrible clueless things about progressives and progressive issues.”
For decades the sideshow to her parents, the younger Ms. Clinton has stepped out of their shadow in the months since her mother’s loss to Donald Trump in the presidential race.
On Twitter, she has been mixing gripes against Mr. Trump with praise for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, and a plea to the public to let the president’s youngest son, Barron, have the “chance every child does — to be a kid.”
Late last week, the heavy political bent of her tweets prompted speculation that she was eyeing the seat of Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, New York Democrat, if it opens.
Ms. Clinton flatly ruled out that notion over the weekend and told reporters that Ms. Gillibrand is running for re-election anyway.
But the former first daughter has previously said that seeking public office is “absolutely” a possibility.
Attendees at the DNC forum predicted that she would have a tough time ditching the family baggage.
“The country does not have any more appetite for any Clintons,” said Mike Bender, 61, of Baltimore. “Enough is enough, and frankly I think the Clinton policies, going back to Bill, are what took the Democrats to the center and the right, and you can see what kind of enthusiasm that inspired.”
Still, some of the activists at the DNC forum didn’t rule out Ms. Clinton entirely.
They said she should wait at least a decade for the anti-Clinton sentiment to burn off or that they would judge her on her own merits if she runs for office.
“I don’t know,” said Ali Khawar, of the District of Columbia. “I think if she decided to run, that is her right as a citizen, and I will judge her on her merits and to the extent that voters think her familial relationship are good or bad, that is something for them to judge her on.”
Ms. Clinton serves as vice chairwoman of the Clinton Foundation and is featured in a photograph with her father, former President Bill Clinton, on the group’s website.
The foundation is still coming to grips with a loss that has tarnished the Clinton brand.
The loss also left Mr. Clinton in a leadership post he was planning to vacate had his wife won.
The New York Times reported this month that the foundation is regrouping amid lingering questions over what roles the Clinton family will play.
The foundation has raised $2 billion since its beginning in 1997 and remains a force. But fundraising dropped off during the election campaign as it came under withering attacks from Mr. Trump, who accused the Clintons of offering special access at the State Department to foundation donors.
Mrs. Clinton was never charged with any wrongdoing.
Also, hacked emails released by WikiLeaks toward the tail end of the campaign unearthed turmoil between Ms. Clinton and longtime family confidant Doug Band, who helped launch the Clinton Foundation. He called her a “spoiled brat” and said she used “foundation resources for her wedding and life for a decade.”
Ms. Clinton, meanwhile, said she suspected Mr. Band was leveraging his role at the foundation and the family name to line his pockets and help launch his own company. Mr. Band defended himself in a 12-page memo to, among others, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, explaining how his company, Teneo Holdings, raised money for the Clinton Foundation.
In response to an email, The Clinton Foundation dismissed the idea that Ms. Clinton is viewing a more active role in politics to promote the Clinton Foundation and to bring the fundraising — from which Mr. Band suggested she personally benefited — back to where it was before the presidential campaign.
The press office said the idea is based off “false assumptions.” It pointed to a Washington Post fact-checker that found there is “no evidence” that the foundation picked up the tab for Ms. Clinton’s wedding and a Politifact analysis that said, “The Clintons do not take any sort of paycheck, bonus or fees from the Clinton Foundation.”
Ms. Clinton, meanwhile, also has political scars from the primary campaign, where she served as a top surrogate for her mother and warned voters that Mr. Sanders‘ health care plan would “empower Republican governors to take away Medicaid, to take away health insurance for low-income and middle-income working Americans.”
Independent fact checkers have said that Ms. Clinton mischaracterized the Vermont’s independent’s position, and activists are still fuming.
“It was a big lie,” Ms. Boyd said. “If she is going to be like that, who needs her? She doesn’t get it. She always had money. She is very out of touch with the American people. I don’t think she has really circulated with the American people since she was maybe 4 [years old] or something.”
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