Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

More Caroline Kennedy: Supports Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

December 22, 2008

I just left a memorial luncheon for the great David Nyhan, presided over by Ed Jesser and Marty Nolan. The Kennedy Room in Doyle’s was abuzz with talk of Caroline Kennedy’s quasi-candidacy. Seasoned political hand Jim King recounted his efforts on behalf of Ted Kennedy back in 1961!

While I soaked up the political color — more than I can get into here — I received a news flash via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Kennedy had just come out in favor of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Caroline Kennedy expressed support for Israel and for Jerusalem as its capital.

The scion of the Kennedy clan, who recently expressed her interest in assuming the seat of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) should Clinton be confirmed as secretary of state, answered a New York Times political questionnaire on Saturday, her first such policy statement.

Kennedy expressed “strong support for Israel,” the Times reported, “and said an undivided Jerusalem must be the country’s national capital.”

This recalled another aspect of the Senator Moynihan-Hillary Clinton-Caroline Kennedy connection. Moynihan urged Clinton to embrace the cause of Israel as part of her advocacy of New York. She not only agreed, but broke with President Clinton over it. And I scooped the world on it.

Here’s a caution from a pro-Israel activist on this issue. The comment relates to Clinton, but it could possibly apply to Kennedy as well:

Morrie Amitay, who is a former director of Aipac, a Washington lawyer, and a pro-Israel activist, cautioned against reading too much into Mrs. Clinton’s statement. “What a candidate says before they’re elected is fairly meaningless. She’s become a friend of Israel only recently. You do not know what she really believes,” Mr. Amitay said. Pre-election statements on Jerusalem have bedeviled political candidates on both sides of the aisle. Asked about moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by Morton Klein at a private fundraiser in 1999, President Bush, then the governor of Texas, replied, “I’m afraid that might screw up the peace process. I don’t want to screw up the peace process.” An aide later stated Mr. Bush’s intention was to move the embassy to Jerusalem and that he would “set the process in motion as soon as he becomes president.” Neither President Bush nor President Clinton followed the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995, which declared the city Israel’s capital and ordered the moving of the embassy to the city.

Gitell on Barack Obama’s National Security Team

December 3, 2008

Watch me on NewsNight analyzing President-Elect Obama’s new national security team by clicking here.

The Obama Announcement

December 1, 2008

I watched in awe as President-Elect Barack Obama announced his national security team. There, as has been leaked, stood Senator Clinton aside the incoming president. It is remarkable in our political lifetime for a president to make such an ambitious pick — and for that pick to accept.

The Obama team faced a considerable challenge during today’s media availability. They had to manage the announcement — and the egos of the personalities involved –in such a way to highlight each member of the team without having it look unruly. It came across, more or less, as smooth. The journalists’ questions were all easily anticipated and mostly focused on challenging Obama on what statements he made about Clinton during the campaign. Other thoughts:


  • Permanent Representative to the United Nations is a good spot for the underwhelming Susan Rice. At the U.N. she can be an outspoken advocate for American values and diplomacy without having much to do with substance — although the elevation of this post to cabinet-level could alter the equation.
  • I could not miss Obama’s reference to the Middle East peace process. I wonder exactly how ambitious his plans are for this area.
  • A interesting spot of the event was Vice President-Elect Joseph Biden. He seemed to be chafing at the confines of his talking points. 
  • Expect some conflict between the presumptive national security adviser, James Jones, who has been critical of Israel, and Clinton. Writes Eli Lake: “When Obama makes that move [on the issues], the Jones-Clinton tensions may reprise the great Powell-Cheney fights of yore.”

Personal Memories of Campaign 2008

November 6, 2008
I first met Barack Obama at a sparsely attended press conference for Deval Patrick in October 2006. I saw him electrify an audience at the JFK Library and witnessed his first big appearance in New Hampshire in early December. I was there in Concord when Obama stood by his vow to meet the president of Iran during his first year in office. “We don’t need Bush-Cheney Lite,” he said as the crowd erupted in cheers. Even when this became an issue in the debates with McCain, nobody told McCain Obama ever said that.
I heard him implore Massachusetts to vote for him with Caroline Kennedy and Ted Kennedy at his side the night before the primary. He lost but he did not lose his cool.
I saw his last appearance with foreign policy aide Samantha Power. Obama seemed to love her energy but his staffers kept reeling her in.
I was one of the few writers to spend an extended period of time with Joe Biden, who gave me time after a book talk at Borders in downtown Boston. In an odd juxtaposition from four years earlier, I waited for Biden with the BPPA’s leadership team.
I attended scores of Hillary Clinton speeches and watched her campaign of inevitability devolve into desperation. I saw her fight back as the NH primary approached. I was in the room when two goons got up during one of her speeches shouting “Iron My Shirt! Iron My Shirt!”
I covered the Pennsylvania primary before Obama had figured out how to capture the votes of blue collar whites (or before the economy entirely went south.) I saw a Bill Clinton, reduced to giving 25 minute speeches in out-of-the-way venues, rev up the crowd in Millvale, PA. I interviewed Senator Casey of Pennsylvania who assured me Obama would win over enough Catholic voters to become president.
On the Republican side, I began by following Mitt Romney around New Hampshire. I saw Rudy Giuliani take brief interest and lose it in the Granite State. While he started to resonate in July, his big tour across Southern New Hampshire was a bust. The lasting image is of his gaggle of stilettoed press aides shoeing away the media, including David Broder who subsequently slammed Giuliani in the Washington Post.
McCain began his presidential campaign in Portsmouth at a highly orchestrated event right on the river with just one problem. The t.v. cameras could not shoot over the big speakers McCain’s people had set up. I called around NH when McCain hit his low point. McCain would win NH on his own, his supporters said. And they were right. I was with McCain the night he won NH and killed the campaign of Mitt Romney. The campaign blared Chuck Berry’s “Go Johnny Go!” How is this guy going to compete with Obama and his U2 “City of Blinding Light?” I thought.
I was there in Denver when Obama made everything in his campaign bigger and pulled it off.

Lipstick on a Pig: Bill Clinton’s Revenge

September 10, 2008

A turning point in the primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came after Bill Clinton used the words “fairy tale” to describe Barack Obama’s rise to fame. Hillary Clinton’s campaign sputtered after that, and Bill Clinton’s reputation suffered.

Clinton always maintained that Obama’s supporters, who sensed in the comment a racial remark, had it wrong. His comment, he maintained, was directed at the story of Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq. “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen,” Clinton said. Here per Politico is

Clinton’s explanation of what he said:

“I pointed out that he had never been asked about his statement in 2004 that he didn’t know how he would have voted on the war resolution,” Bill Clinton said.

“It disproves the argument that he was always against it and everybody else was wrong and he was right.”

Now — and here is the delicious part — Barack Obama finds himself in almost the exact same position over his use of the phrase “lipstick on a pig” while talking about Sarah Palin. And, also by way of Politico’s Ben Smith, Obama’s no happier about it than his erstwhile foe was.

“See, it would be funny, but the news media decided that would be the lead story yesterday. This happens every election cycle. Every four years, this is what we do. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about…Enough!” he said.

Kindof like Bill and Hillary Clinton felt last January.

Battle for Pa

August 19, 2008

By my account, Pennsylvania is in play. I don’t agree with Slate, which puts the state in its “safe Dem” category.

“The chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, James Burn Jr., a former supporter of Mrs. Clinton, is on the front lines of building up support for Mr. Obama in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities.

‘Some of the folks who were with Hillary came right over. Others, it took a little while. Still a few, we need to work on,’ he said, adding that he tells the former backers of the New York senator ‘whatever you’re mad about, get rid of it.’

Mr. Burn said that his job would be made easier if Mr. Obama made himself a more visible presence in Western Pennsylvania. ‘Senator Obama has to come out to the West,’ Mr. Burn said. ‘He needs to be out here more. We hope to see more of him.’

Speeches to prominent Catholic groups, such as the Knights of Columbus, would help solidify the backing of undecided voters and rebut tough allegations sure to come in the fall. Mr. Burn explained that such visibility would help voters ‘believe what they hear from him and not what someone’s saying.’ Mr. Obama was in the state to host an economic forum at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University in June.”

Read more in my New York Sun column here.

McCain, Obama, Clinton — Tonight’s Results

June 4, 2008

John McCain did his best Bob Dole impression tonight. He had the war hero thing down cold, but his comments lacked Dole’s bite.

Having said that, I would caution Barack Obama’s supporters against making their January reservations at the J.W. Marriott. The Boston Globe had it right today when they published a story headlined “Trouble Signs as Obama Closes In.” Here’s what Scott Helman reported: “Over the last three months, the Illinois senator has won six of 14 contests, one less than the seven Clinton has won. (They essentially tied in Texas as she won the primary and he won the caucus.) A loss to Clinton in either primary today would underscore Obama’s relatively weak finish and make his narrow victory over the New York senator slimmer.”

Once again I’m troubled by the messianic tone by many in the media about Obama’s nomination. There is no question now that Obama took the requisite number of delegates to become the nominee. But from my vantage point, this has more to do with the phenomenal tactical plan of the Obama campaign, cleaning Clinton’s clock in the caucus states, than with any widespread annointing of Obama. Obama tonight, graciously, thanked David Plouffe for “building the best political organization in the country.”

Finally, I must say I adore Obama and his wife as a couple. They have held it together during a very stressful time.

Hillary Clinton: Mountain Momma

May 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton just trounced Barack Obama in West Virginia. She’s giving a fired up speech from Charleston. And she’s not going anywhere.

I’m struck by the crowd in the background, all white except for an African American dude in a doo-rag. They’ve also got some kind of doofus in a windbreaker holding a bowling pin aloft.

I’ve admired Clinton’s fighting spirit for much of this campaign. On stylistic grounds, it’s almost bordering on self-parody.

As for Barack Obama, he’s certainly not finishing this race in strong fashion. I’m not sure if that will hurt his chances in November. But it can’t be good.

Thoughts on Clinton v. Obama: Indiana and North Carolina

May 6, 2008

Even if Hillary Clinton wins both North Carolina and Indiana today, which is highly unlikely, all relevant metrics still point to his nomination. This could be a shock for some people, including white blue collar voters, who will have seen Clinton surge over the last two months, while Obama has flagged.

The often unsaid reality of the 2008 campaign is that the deck is stacked against white, working class voters due to the Democratic Party’s distribution of delegates. In Pennsylvania, Clinton rode the support of these voters to a victory by a margin of 214,224 voters. Despite her win there, she gained only 10 more delegates than Obama.

Obama, by contrast, won by a sounder margin in the Idaho caucuses. He defeated Clinton: 16,880 to 3,665. Thanks to this 13,000 margin, Obama garnered 12 delegates. Although Clinton won Pennsylvania by a margin that is 16 times greater than the margin Obama won by in Idaho, she received two fewer delegates.

Obama won more delegates in Idaho because of the high percentage of his victory there. It’s all the more puzzling because the state is practically irrelevant to a Democratic win in November. In Pennsylvania, Obama’s losses were mitigated because his success came in urban areas, which carry more delegates than less populated and less Democratic areas.

A similar analysis of Ohio demonstrates analogous results. In Texas, where Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote in the primary by more than 100,000 votes out of almost 2 million, she ended up losing five delegates to Obama. Again, this was due to Democratic delegate apportionment and Obama’s success in a caucus there when less than 43,000 participated.

Just because Obama has the delegate advantage, doesn’t mean it’s fair. But this is politics.

I’d watch the fallout here as the Democratic Party attempts to come together as the Democratic National Convention approaches. 

Hillary Clinton: “We’ve Got To Elect A President Who’s A Fighter”

May 1, 2008

Hillary Clinton has really hit her stride with this Hillary as a fighter motif. That explains why she would appear with vocal critic Bill O’Reilly

The mystery of this campaign is that Clinton is peaking as Barack Obama is at his worst. By every measurable standard, Obama should be the nominee. Yet Clinton is lapping him at the end. She’s even been wearing a garish magenta-accented outfit, which along with the return of big hair is causing the Fabulous Dana to suspect is poll-driven to draw blue collar votes.

Much has been made of the anger that many of the voters Obama has brought into the system will express if the super delegates choose Clinton as the nominee (as Politico reports many have already decided). But could there be an equivalent — or even greater — sense of frustration from those who have witnessed Obama take a dive over the last several weeks. That’s what the recent Suffolk poll of Pennsylvania suggested.

This means that if and when Obama becomes the presumptive nominee any sense of peace among the Democrats will hinge on Clinton and her supporters. If Clinton chooses, it could be ugly.