Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Campaign memo

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s presidential campaign site offers the following equation over a photo of the New York Democrat: “Strength + experience = change.”

“The reason for Hillary’s growing support is that voters want change, and they know that only Hillary has the record of fighting for the kind of change they want, and the experience to execute it,” Clinton strategist Mark Penn wrote in a campaign memo released yesterday. The memo, posted on The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap, outlines the former first lady’s strong position in nearly all polls conducted at the national and state levels.

Also making plans yesterday was former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who announced more details of his “Road to One America” tour reported here yesterday.

The tour will take Mr. Edwards through 12 cities in eight states next week, campaign manager David Bonior told reporters. He will start in New Orleans with a walking tour of neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and then will lead a town hall meeting.

Calling the three-day tour, which starts Monday, ambitious, Mr. Bonior noted that none of the states has an early primary.

He said Mr. Edwards wants to “highlight the new face of poverty” and show that poor people are “not just statistics.” Among the policy issues Mr. Edwards will discuss on the tour are proposals to raise the hourly minimum wage to $9.50 by 2012 and to improve education. The tour will go through some of the poorest counties in the country, including some in Mississippi, Arkansas and Virginia.

“We want to force this issue into the debate,” Mr. Bonior said. “Political leaders are not talking about this issue.”

Mayor surfaces

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday attended his first press conference since he confirmed an extramarital affair with a TV newscaster.

Mr. Villaraigosa maneuvered through reporters in the hallway before the event on school funding, flashing his trademark smile but ignoring shouted questions about Mirthala Salinas of Telemundo affiliate KVEA. When asked whether he was trying to burnish his image by focusing on city business, he replied: “Just doing my job.”

Mr. Villaraigosa, 54, effectively disappeared after confirming his relationship with Miss Salinas last Tuesday. He had no public appearances on the Fourth of July and skipped the official opening of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Los Angeles headquarters even though he is a national co-chairman of her presidential campaign.

No union label

Congressional Democrats yesterday dropped their demand for union bargaining rights for airport screeners, hoping to revive counterterrorism legislation that had stalled because of a presidential veto threat.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, made the announcement on the Senate floor as he called for House and Senate negotiators to begin reconciling bills implementing the July 2004 recommendations of the bipartisan September 11 commission.

The legislation — passed by the House in January and by the Senate in March — has been one of the Democratic majority’s priorities, but it stalled because of a presidential veto threat over allowing airport screeners to have collective bargaining rights, the Associated Press reports.

Because of the veto threat, neither the House nor the Senate will consider the legislation if “it contains collective bargaining provisions which I have committed to drop, as has the speaker,” Mr. Reid said.

“We want to move the 9/11 bill forward and get to conference quickly,” said Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, cheered the decision. “Republicans were able to ensure our national security is a higher priority than a special-interest provision for big labor and succeeded in removing a dangerous provision from this bill,” he said.

The yogurt vote

Sen. Barack Obama yesterday scooped up a key New Hampshire presidential endorsement.

Yogurt mogul Gary Hirshberg, an environmental leader and chief executive officer of Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, N.H., called the Illinois Democrat a “healer.”

Mr. Hirshberg, who endorsed Howard Dean in 2004, said he felt “tortured” by the decision because he was considering an endorsement of former Sen. John Edwards. But a recent visit from Mr. Obama sealed the deal, reports Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times.

Mr. Obama greeted and wowed a few hundred undecided and independent voters at the Hirshberg home. Later, he secured the Hirshbergs’ support while chatting with young adults from a soccer team.

Mr. Hirshberg looks at Mr. Obama as a CEO-type who can lead the country and unite 60 percent or more of voters instead of going for a “50-plus-one” majority strategy. Mr. Hirshberg said the senator is the only candidate who can attract Republicans in a general election, adding that he is sure Mr. Obama would turn several red states “at least purple.”

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack had tried to persuade Mr. Hirshberg to endorse front-running Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“I don’t believe Hillary can win, so I just can’t support her,” Mr. Hirshberg said. “I love her, but the country doesn’t want two decades of two families.”

Red scare

Is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a Marxist? That seemed to be what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was suggesting last weekend.

“Look at how the Democrats like Hillary Clinton think about our economy,” the former Massachusetts governor said Saturday in a speech to the Young Republicans convention in Hollywood, Fla. “She said the other day some very interesting things. You probably saw them. She said that it is, quote, ‘time to reject the idea of an on-your-own society and replace it with shared responsibility.’ She says she prefers a, quote, ‘we’re all-in-it-together society.’ I see — out with Adam Smith, in with Karl Marx.”

Sounds of silence

“Last August, when one federal judge ruled unconstitutional the monitoring of U.S. phone calls with suspected terrorists overseas, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all highlighted the defeat for the Bush administration. But on Friday, after an appeals court overturned the earlier decision, ABC and CBS were silent while NBC again distorted the policy as ‘domestic spying,’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Last August 17, ABC’s World News anchor Charles Gibson teased: ‘A federal judge tells the Bush administration one of its main terror-fighting tools violates the Constitution.’ Gibson introduced the story of the ‘major legal defeat’ for the Bush administration and correspondent Martha Raddatz filed a full report in which she described the ruling as a ‘significant blow’ to the administration. While the words ‘Domestic Surveillance’ were displayed on screen, NBC anchor Campbell Brown relayed that the judge ‘harshly condemned’ the program. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann also ignored Friday’s ruling on his ‘Countdown’ show, while last August he had trumpeted that day’s anti-Bush court decision as a ‘judicial smackdown.’ ”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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