Eyeing 2016, Clinton selective on policy issues

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Eyeing 2016, Clinton selective on policy issues
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 16: Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her book 'Hard Choices' at BookHampton on August 16, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 16: Hillary Rodham Clinton signs copies of her book 'Hard Choices' at BookHampton on August 16, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives to sign her book 'Hards Choices' at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Martha's Vineyard on August 13, 2014. Clinton on August 12 denied attacking US President Barack Obama over his foreign policy in Syria and Iraq, insisting she was looking forward to 'hugging it out' with the US leader when they meet at a party later this week. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 23: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a during a round table event to launch the 'Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing' campaign at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute on July 23, 2014 in Oakland, California. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the 'Talking is Teaching; Talk Read Sing' campaign in partnership withToo Small to Fail and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation that encourages parents and caregivers to close the word gap by talking, singing and reading to children every day from the birth. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and US President barack Obama (R) are greeted by Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) at her residence in Yangon on November 19, 2012 . Obama arrived in Myanmar for a historic visit aimed at encouraging a string of dramatic political reforms in the former pariah state. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) looks on as US President Barack Obama (2nd L) speaks during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (2nd R) on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 20, 2012. During the two-day East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Obama was scheduled to hold talks with the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japan's Yoshihiko Noda. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton board Air Force One at the airport in Yangon on November 19, 2012. Huge crowds greeted Barack Obama in Myanmar on the first visit by a serving US president to the former pariah state to encourage a string of startling political reforms. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Copies of the German translation of the book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, stand on display at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama(2nd-L), First Lady Michelle Obama(L) along with former president Bill Clinton(3rd-L) and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton(4th-L) take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the late 35th president of the US John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery on November 20, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Commenting on the size of the drinks at Arthur Bryant's Barbecue restaurant, President Barrack Obama (middle), prepared to sit down to talk and eat with Victor Fugate (left), Mark Turner, and Becky Forrest (right) during a visit to Kansas City on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (Shane Keyser/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 27: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech during a townhall session with the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) at Universiti Malaya on April 27, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The U.S. President is on an Asian tour where he is due to visit Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Philippines. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 20: Hillary Rodham Clinton appears on stage during 'A Conversation With Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton' at the Long Center on June 20, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States (R), speaks next to Christoph Amend, editor in chief of Zeit Magazin, during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: (L-R) First lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama attend the Marine Barracks Evening Parade on June 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Marine Barracks Evening Parade is a tradition held in Washington and is in it's 57th year. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: (L-R) First lady Michelle Obama, daughter Sasha Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama attend the Marine Barracks Evening Parade on June 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Marine Barracks Evening Parade is a tradition held in Washington and is in it's 57th year. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to speak at the World Bank May 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim joined others to speak about women's rights. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, walks with Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, left, and Derek Mitchell, U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, after arriving at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. Obama hailed Myanmar's shift to democracy and urged more steps to increase freedom in the first visit to the former military regime by a U.S. president. Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) gestures as US President Barack Obama (2nd R) finishes a meeting with Myanmar's President Thein Sein (R) at the regional parliament building in Yangon on November 19, 2012. Obama met Myanmar's reformist leader Thein Sein during a landmark visit to Yangon aimed at encouraging political reforms. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (2nd L) walk past US representatives including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) during a welcoming ceremony at Government House in Bangkok on November 18, 2012. President Barack Obama arrived in Asia on November 18 to intensify a US foreign policy pivot towards the fast-rising region on his first overseas trip since re-election, including a landmark visit to Myanmar. AFP PHOTO/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton offered praise for President Barack Obama's executive actions to stave off deportation for millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. But the Democrats' favored presidential hopeful has been less forthcoming on other issues in these early days of the 2016 contest.

Clinton is not, so far, a candidate, and she's limiting her commentary about the daily news cycle confronting Obama - a strategy that could keep down chatter about where she and the unpopular president agree and where they diverge.

The former secretary of state, senator and first lady is not talking about the Keystone XL pipeline, rejected by one vote in the final weeks of the Democrat-led Senate. She has yet to speak publicly about a sweeping climate change agreement between the U.S. and China, an extension of talks over Iran's nuclear program or the Senate's move to block a bill to end bulk collection of Americans' phone records by the National Security Agency.

When Obama announced his moves to prevent the deportations for nearly 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, Clinton quickly embraced the decision on Twitter. The president, she wrote, was "taking action on immigration in the face of inaction" in Congress. In doing so, she signaled that as a candidate, she would run against the Republican-led House and Senate that convenes next year. Clinton also drew a distinction from her would-be GOP opponents who have spoken of immigration reform in large part as a border security problem.

On other weighty policy matters, however, Clinton is mum.

"You've got to make choices if you're not a candidate," said Lanny Davis, a White House special counsel during the Clinton administration who attended law school with Bill and Hillary Clinton. "She is not a candidate for president. When she becomes a candidate, she has to start answering questions."

Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, declined to comment.

Clinton is expected to make her political intentions known in the coming weeks, likely in early 2015. Her speeches are closely watched for signs of how she might offer a rationale for her candidacy.

Clinton campaigned for Democratic candidates during the fall, often pointing to pocketbook issues like equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage and expanded family leave policies. "A 20th century economy will not work for 21st century families," she said at an October rally.

Since then, Clinton has taken a more circumspect posture in public events, appearing at charity events and voicing support for issues related to her work at the Clinton Foundation. That approach allows her to stay above the political fray in the aftermath of Democrats' poor showing during the midterm elections.

Clinton has stayed close to Obama on immigration, releasing a statement that noted that previous presidents of both parties had taken similar steps.

The following night, in an interview at a New York Historical Society event, Clinton reiterated the need for Congress to act on a comprehensive immigration bill. She also put the issue in the context of families, saying the decision probably affected wait staff who were serving the dinner.

"There is probably no more pressing issue at this time than to fix this immigration system," said Alex Padilla, California's secretary of state-elect. "As a leader, it was right for her to speak up. A lot of people wanted to know what she thought."

Other policy issues carry more political risk.

Clinton has avoided weighing in on the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it wouldn't be appropriate for her since the environmental review by the State Department happened during her watch. The issue is tricky for Democrats because labor unions have supported the plan but environmentalists adamantly oppose it.

Clinton has called climate change the nation's "most consequential" issue but has yet to weigh in on the agreement Obama reached with China to set new targets for cutting emissions. The deal was negotiated by John Podesta, a Clinton White House chief of staff who is expected to play a prominent role in a Clinton presidential campaign.

Both issues could receive attention from Clinton on Monday, when she is scheduled to address the League of Conservation Voters in New York.

On NSA surveillance, Clinton has talked broadly about the need to balance the need for security without infringing upon Americans' privacy amid a debate over the government's collection of data. But she has kept a low profile on the issue.

Republicans contend Clinton is being overly political in the lead-up to a presidential campaign.

"Everything Hillary does is for political purposes," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, "which includes taking positions for political expediency and not answering tough questions for political reasons."

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Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kthomasdc

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