With retail giant Wal-Mart under fire to improve its labor and health care policies, one Democrat with deep ties to the company — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — has started feeling her share of the political heat.
Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas. And the Rose Law Firm, where she was a partner, handled many of the Arkansas-based company's legal affairs.
Clinton had kind words for Wal-Mart as recently as 2004, when she told an audience at the convention of the National Retail Federation that her time on the board "was a great experience in every respect."
But in recent months, as the company has become a target for Democratic activists, she has largely steered clear of any mention of Wal-Mart. And late last year, Clinton's re-election campaign returned a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, citing "serious differences with current company practices."
As Clinton sheds her Arkansas past and looks ahead to a possible 2008 presidential run, the Wal-Mart issue presents an exquisite dilemma: how to reconcile the political demands she faces today with her history at a company many American consumers depend upon but many Democratic activists revile.