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Hillary Clinton's venality will be her downfall

Hillary Clinton has many liabilities as a presidential candidate, her strident liberalism and thin record of accomplishment among them. But her greatest liability is her venality. And it may be what ultimately dooms her campaign.

Hillary's corruptibility was on display at a town hall event in Nashua, N.H., on Wednesday. When asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper why she had accepted $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, Clinton replied, "I don't know. That's what they offered."

Clinton said she accepted the money in part because she wasn't really thinking about running for president at the time. Then she insisted that the money wouldn't influence her policies if she becomes president. When asked if she regretted taking the money, she said that she did not.

First of all, it is untrue that Goldman Sachs offered Clinton $675,000 to speak. As the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reported, Hillary's speech fee was set by her agent, not the bank.

Clinton challenged Cooper to "just name one thing" on which those who have paid her for speeches have influenced her. There are numerous examples of the Clintons or their charities receiving money at times when one or both of them exerted influence on behalf of the sources of that money. In fact, a best-selling book was written on the subject last May.

Clinton also told Cooper about Goldman Sachs, "I mean, they're not giving me very much money now, I can tell you that much."

But again, that's not quite true, at least according to most people's definition of "very much." As The Examiner's Timothy P. Carney notes, Goldman Sachs employees have donated more than $90,000 to Hillary's presidential campaign, nearly twice as much as Ted Cruz has raised from the Wall Street giant, even though his wife works there.

The Clintons' extreme wealth and close ties to Wall Street are likely to be a liability for Hillary as she continues trying to fend off a primary challenge from Bernie Sanders. The socialist senator from Vermont has become a plausible threat to her by railing against the 1 percent and assailing Clinton for her close ties to Wall Street.

And it will also hurt her in a general election contest. How can she inveigh against the cost of college when she charges public universities $300,000 to deliver speeches to students who are walking away from school with $100,000 in loan debt?

How can she complain about the insidious role of money in politics when she and her husband have made an estimated $139 million from paid speeches, routing them through a complex system of charities and private companies seemingly in an effort to elude detection?

And how can Clinton claim to "feel the pain" of America's hollowed-out middle class when between 2013-15 she earned roughly $2.9 million from Wall Street banks and other financial companies for just a dozen speeches? After all, according to one estimate, that's more than the average worker with a bachelor's degree can expect to earn in a lifetime.

The answer is she can't.

In 2012, exit polls revealed that most voters preferred Mitt Romney's values and policies over those of Barack Obama. But Obama bested Romney on empathy-related questions, including by 10 points on the question, "Who is more in touch with people like you?"

With Clinton as their nominee, Democrats would cede the empathy vote to Republicans — and with it, perhaps, the election.