Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tense relations

” ‘Serious tensions’ exist between U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s Washington-based presidential campaign staff and those working on her campaign in New York,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker writes, citing “Democratic insiders.”

” ‘Her New York crew is fighting … with her D.C. folks, and it’s worse than the normal stuff, real serious tensions,’ said a Democratic Party source. ‘The New York folks are the ones who got her elected to begin with. They’ve done it and know what to do. The D.C. folks are the “geniuses” who do “national elections” and think everyone here is a rube.’

” ‘The Washington types hold meeting after meeting and then send a group of fatheaded 27-year-olds to do events in New York, and they wind up fighting with her staff here,’ continued the source, who is in day-to-day contact with party activities.

“The source said the tensions exploded at Clinton’s endorsement event with [New York] Gov. [Eliot] Spitzer and other high-ranking Democrats earlier in the month at the [state] Capitol. ‘The New York locals were incensed that so many of these outsider kids were sent in from Washington, and they were trying to run the event, and they couldn’t even make a contribution to it.’

“Meanwhile, the source said many New York Democrats believe Clinton ‘isn’t doing so well out there, that she may not have what it takes to become president.’

” ‘When you’re out talking to real Democrats in the field, you hear them say, “She has no pulse. Just polls.” Did you see how she voted on the Iraq resolution? … She waited to see how [Barack] Obama voted before she did. So calculated even on such a core issue,’ the source said.”

Kerry’s calculation

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, voted for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 after weighing the political ramifications and being told by his future campaign manager that he would never be elected president in 2004 unless he sided with President Bush on the issue, according to a forthcoming book by Mr. Kerry’s former strategist.

The book by veteran Democratic Party strategist Robert Shrum, titled “No Excuses,” paints a portrait of an often-dysfunctional Kerry presidential campaign in which senior strategists clashed with each other, the Boston Globe reports.

An advance copy of the memoir of Mr. Shrum’s years in politics, slated for release in early June, was provided to the Globe.

Mr. Shrum provides a vivid description of events leading up to Mr. Kerry’s decision to vote for the war.

He writes that Mr. Kerry telephoned him on the eve of the Oct. 11, 2002, vote. Mr. Shrum said that Mr. Kerry was skeptical of Mr. Bush’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that he “didn’t trust Bush to give the diplomatic route a real chance.” Nonetheless, Mr. Kerry asked Mr. Shrum whether he would “be a viable general election candidate if he was in the small minority of senators who voted no.”

Mr. Shrum wrote that he told Mr. Kerry that it was “impossible to predict the political fallout if we went to war.” But he wrote that Jim Jordan, Mr. Kerry’s former Senate press secretary and future campaign manager, “was insisting that he had to vote with Bush.”

Mr. Shrum wrote that Mr. Jordan had “hammered” Mr. Kerry with a warning: “Go ahead and vote against it if you want, but you’ll never be president of the United States.” Mr. Kerry voted for the war resolution, and Mr. Jordan became Mr. Kerry’s campaign manager three months later.

Resignation letter

“I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party,” anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wrote yesterday in a blog post at DailyKos.com. “Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a ‘tool’ of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our ‘two-party’ system?

“However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode, and the ‘left’ started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of ‘right or left,’ but ‘right and wrong.’ …

“I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement … has so many divisions. …

“I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. …

“This is my resignation letter as the ‘face’ of the American antiwar movement. … I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or any more people that I love and the rest of my resources.”

No politics, please

Though he said Memorial Day shouldn’t be politicized, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama used a visit to a war monument yesterday to repeat his call for better services for veterans.

Mr. Obama, campaigning in New Hampshire with his wife and daughters, laid a wreath at a war monument before attending a town hall-style meeting in Littleton.

“This is a day on which we reflect on those who have fallen and reflect on the sacrifices they have made for all of us,” Mr. Obama said, talking with reporters after the brief ceremony. “This is a great day to think about what we’re doing on behalf of our veterans, and what we’re not doing on behalf of our veterans.”

The Illinois senator also responded to news that the American ambassador to Iraq had held extensive talks with his Iranian counterpart yesterday to discuss Iraq’s future, the Associated Press reports.

“I have to give the administration credit, which I rarely do,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he wants President Bush to conduct more diplomacy in the region.

“Not because I trust the Iranians, but because I think they have a self-interest. They don’t want to see Iraq completely collapse because they’re going to have millions of people pouring over their borders,” he said.

Profitable haircut

“GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is taking his joke about Democrat John Edwards‘ $400 haircut all the way to the bank,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“He tells Whispers that his bid to raise 400 new contributions — one for every dollar Edwards spent — in just 96 hours was a hit, with some donations equal to the price of the haircut. In fact, he wishes other candidates would get expensive trims so he could do it again. ‘If I had known we’d have so many responses,’ he says, ‘I would have hoped that more candidates paid $400 for a haircut.’ ”

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

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