- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton thinks Democratic Sen. John Kerry “ran what was basically an inconsistent campaign” for president last year, according to a published report.

The Kerry campaign had “a different message every two or three weeks,” Ann Lewis, director of communications for Mrs. Clinton’s political action committee, told the Forward, a weekly New York City-based newspaper aimed at a Jewish audience.

They “kept trying to rationally convince, to put a presidency together, line by line, plan by plan,” said Miss Lewis. She said people “don’t vote for plans; they vote for presidents.”

Mrs. Clinton, a New York Democrat, and Mr. Kerry of Massachusetts are considered potential rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Jenny Backus, a Kerry political aide, said after reading the story: “Kerry and Clinton are very close. They’re working together on lots of good bills. He’s doing a big fund-raiser for her in Boston. He headlined a big fund-raiser for her in D.C.”

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic operative, said Miss Lewis’ comments are “not helpful to Hillary.”

“What Hillary needs is a smooth playing field,” said Mr. Sheinkopf, who worked on President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. “All this does is create waves.”

“It’ll create more internecine warfare among Democrats, and those who want to take shots at Hillary, who are Kerry loyalists, are now going to do that more than they would have before,” Mr. Sheinkopf added.

Asked about the Forward’s report, Miss Lewis told the Associated Press that her comments “reflect general post-election conversations about campaign strategy that were discussed throughout the party.”

“I worked very hard for John Kerry’s election,” Miss Lewis told the AP, saying she was “deeply sorry he lost.”

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said Mrs. Clinton, as she said after the election, believes Mr. Kerry ran a strong campaign.

Miss Lewis is a veteran political operative, having worked on President Clinton’s re-election campaign and then becoming White House communications director. She was a key adviser to the former first lady during her successful New York Senate race in 2000.

Recent independent polls have shown Mrs. Clinton well ahead of Mr. Kerry and his running mate, former Sen. John Edwards, among Democratic voters asked their preference for the 2008 presidential nomination.

In the wake of Mr. Kerry’s loss to President Bush, Mrs. Clinton said she was “disappointed” by the election’s outcome and had campaigned across the country on Mr. Kerry’s behalf.

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