WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rather than keeping him at arm's length, Hillary Rodham Clinton is embracing President Barack Obama -- sometimes even literally.
Clinton had been expected to look for some ways to separate herself from the president to avoid the impression that having her in the White House would amount to a third Obama term. But as she prepares for another presidential campaign, Clinton has aligned herself with Obama far more often than not.
On Monday, a few hours after meeting Obama at the White House, Clinton tweeted a list of accomplishments of the president's health care law on its fifth anniversary. "Repeal those things? Embrace them!" she declared, posting an old photo of herself extending her arms to hug Obama at the White House.
The tactics carry risk with an electorate that often seeks change after one party -- in this case the Democrats -- runs the White House for eight years. Republicans are already warning voters that Clinton would merely cement Obama's most unpopular policies and continue in his vein.
Clinton is considered the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. The Republican race will likely feature many candidates, with early attention focusing on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Clinton, who is expected to announce her campaign in April, hasn't presented an overarching message of where she would take the country. For now, she's talking about finding consensus and building on "what has worked in the past."
She has also begun taking on the Republican-led Congress -- recently blasting the House Republican budget plan on Twitter, the letter written by Senate Republicans that was seen as interference in Iran nuclear talks and delays in the confirmation Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
Aligning herself with Obama may pose fewer risks than once thought. While his approval rating is still under 50 percent, it has stabilized following a noticeable dip last year. Obama could help Clinton connect with the diverse coalition of voters who powered him to two victories. And perhaps more important, the economy is steadily improving, with job creation up and unemployment down to 5.5 percent.
Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime Obama adviser who recently left the White House, said that while he expects Clinton to break with the president when she actually disagrees with him, it would be unwise to create differences where none truly exists.
While Clinton has been avoiding substantive policy splits with the president, she's suggesting her presidency would mark a change in style. While Obama has long been criticized for his lack of outreach to Congress, Clinton has emphasized the importance of having strong ties across the aisle, saying "I don't think there's any substitute to building relationships."
One of Hillary Clinton's most public breaks with Obama came last summer when she took a veiled shot at his "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" foreign policy doctrine. In an interview with The Atlantic magazine, she said, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."
Clinton scrambled to walk back the jab, calling up her old boss to try to smooth things over. Obama and Clinton met in person a few days later and "hugged it out," aides said.
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