Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Breaking News for Hillary Is all Good

Photo credits:

Superdelegate Bill George, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president, has announced his support for Sen. Clinton. With George's support, Clinton extends her lead over fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama to 16-5 among Pennsylvania superdelegates.

And in North Carolina, on the heels of Gov. Easley’s formal endorsement this week, the Clinton Campaign has upped the odds for Hillary with a very moving one-minute ad featuring Maya Angelou. Watch the ad at Talking Points Memo.

Recent polls show Hillary closing the gap in North Carolina, and Eric Kleefeld at TPM points out: “if she can win Indiana and deprive Obama of a North Carolina landslide, that would go a very long way in making her case to super-delegates that Obama is really a weak candidate.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NC Gov. Easley and MO Rep. Ike Skelton Endorse Clinton

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley formally endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president at a joint appearance in Raleigh this morning.

According to the AP’s Beth Fouhy, the two-term governor said, “Hillary gets it. It's time for somebody to be in the White House who understands the challenges we face in this country.”

Easley's endorsement comes a week before the state's May 6 primary, and it’s a boost for Sen. Clinton who has been gaining ground on Obama in the latest North Carolina polls.

The AP also reported today that Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton is joining Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, also of Missouri, in endorsing Clinton for president. The AP account said Skelton is endorsing Clinton because of her support in rural America, her commitment to national security and her dedication to U.S. troops.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rev. Wright, the Man of God vs. Obama, the Politician

Having a theological education from an accredited seminary, I watched Rev. Wright’s presentation at the National Press Club with interest this morning, and I could empathize with much of what he had to say about the oppression African-Americans have long endured.

Nevertheless, I felt squeamish in response to Wright’s charge that media criticism of his more inflammatory comments was actually criticism of the black church in general. I don’t believe Rev. Wright is qualified to speak for all black churches in America. Unlike Trinity United Church of Christ, I’m quite sure that many black churches would best be described as moderate or conservative in both their religious and political beliefs.

Watching his performance on CNN, I caught just a whiff of vengeance from Wright that was directed toward Barack Obama. Reading the various online media accounts today, I became aware that I was not alone.

The analysis by the AP’s Nedra Pickler was accurately titled, “Wright Does Obama Little Good.”

Pickler begins:

“The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is going after his critics on an incendiary tour that is doing his one-time congregant, Barack Obama, little good.

“After weeks of staying out of the public eye while critics lambasted his sermons, Wright made three public appearances in four days to defend himself. The former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago has been combative, providing colorful commentary and feeding the story Obama had hoped was dying down.

"This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," Wright told the Washington press corps Monday. "It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition."

Pickler continued:

“Wright's tour couldn't come at a much worse time for Obama, who is campaigning for white working class voters in Indiana and North Carolina. Many of Wright's most controversial comments are angry condemnations of the United States for its treatments of blacks — thoughts that were applauded by the black church leaders in his audience Monday but risk offending white voters.

“An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Monday suggests the Wright controversy may be hurting Obama among whites. His Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing better than Obama among whites in head-to-head matchups with John McCain. Among white respondents, Clinton gets 43 percent to McCain's 48 percent. Obama gets 38 percent to McCain's 51 percent. Obama said Monday, after Wright's latest comments, "None of the voters I talk to ask about it. There may be people who are troubled by it and are polite and not asking about it. It's not what I hear."

Pickler quoted Obama further:

"I have said before and I will say again that some of the comments Rev. Wright has made offend me and I understand why they have offended the American people. ... Certainly what the last three days indicates is we're not coordinating with him."

Pickler added:

“Wright showed no concern for how he might be affecting the presidential race. He suggested Obama was distancing himself only because of political motivations while he, the former pastor, was trying to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”

Read more of Pickler’s analysis.

AP: N.C. Gov. Easley to endorse Clinton

Just as the latest results from Public Policy Polling show Hillary Clinton gaining ground on Barack Obama in North Carolina, the AP reports that Gov. Mike Easley will endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president.

According to the AP:

“Easley was expected to announce the endorsement Tuesday morning in Raleigh, the state capital, one week before North Carolina's primary on May 6, according to persons close to the governor and to Clinton. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not yet been made.

“The endorsement is a major boost for the former first lady. Besides being a respected figure among Democrats in the state, Easley is one of the all-important superdelegates likely to choose the party's presidential nominee.”

AP-Ipsos Poll Shows Clinton with Improved Margins in Several Voter Categories

The Associated Press offers in-depth analysis of the results from the latest AP-Ipsos poll that I posted earlier showing Clinton leading McCain by nine percentage points. The AP’s data shows the following:

“Overall, people said they trusted Clinton and Obama about the same to handle Iraq and the economy; McCain got similar ratings on Iraq but trailed both Democrats on the economy. And while roughly the same percentage of people said they trusted both Democrats to understand their problems, fewer trusted McCain.

“When pitted against McCain, Clinton now wins among independents, 50 percent to 34 percent, when just a few weeks ago she ran about even with him with this crucial group of voters. Clinton also now does better among independents than Obama does in a matchup with McCain.

“Clinton has a newfound edge among seniors, too, 51 percent to 39 percent; McCain had previously had the advantage. And, Clinton has improved her margin over McCain among people under age 30; two-thirds of them now side with her. McCain leads Obama among seniors, while Obama leads McCain among those under 30 but by a smaller margin than Clinton does.

“She also now leads among Catholics, always an important swing voting group in a general election, and improved her standing in the South as well as in cities and among families making under $25,000 a year. But she lost ground among families making between $50,000 and $100,000; they narrowly support McCain.

“The poll, taken April 23-27, questioned 1,001 adults nationally, with a margin of error of 3.1 percent. Included were interviews with 457 Democratic voters and people leaning Democratic, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.6 points, and 346 Republicans or GOP-leaning voters, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.3 points.”

Clinton Leads McCain 50-41% in Latest AP-Ipsos Poll

As published in today’s International Herald Tribune, “Hillary Rodham Clinton has a better chance than Barack Obama of beating Republican John McCain, according to a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll that bolsters her argument that she is more electable in the fall than her rival for the Democratic nomination.

“The survey released Monday gives Clinton a fresh talking point as she works to convince pivotal undecided superdelegates to side with her in the drawn-out Democratic primary fight.

“Clinton, who won the Pennsylvania primary last week, has gained ground this month in a hypothetical head-to-head match up with the GOP nominee-in-waiting; she now leads McCain, 50 percent to 41 percent, while Obama remains virtually tied with McCain, 46 percent to 44 percent.”

Clinton Pushes Break for Consumers with Gas Tax Holiday

Photo credits: Getty Images

Vacation season looms, and would-be travelers are wondering how they can afford their annual trips to visit the old home place, take the kids to Disney World, or maybe visit New York City for the first time.

The gas tax issue reminds us that when it comes to problems faced by today’s average American family, Hillary Clinton gets it, but her opponent Barack Obama remains clueless.

As reported by the AP’s Sara Kugler, Clinton proposes suspending the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day to ease the economic burden for consumers this summer.

Clinton’s proposal differs from a similar idea offered earlier by John McCain as Clinton wants to make up the difference in revenue by imposing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies.

Clinton also supports suspending the purchase of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and she backs investing in clean energy sources and raising fuel efficiency standards.

Kugler noted that Obama does not support the “gas tax holiday” and has said the average motorist would not benefit significantly from such a suspension; by some estimates, the federal government would lose about $10 billion in revenue.

According to TradingMarkets.Com, Obama had backed a similar temporary gas-tax freeze as an Illinois state senator in 2000. So Republicans are tagging Obama as a "flip-flopper," calling his current position "calculating and contradictory."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clinton: “My Campaign is about Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and Jobs”

Jodi Kantor writes in today’s NY Times that every speech Hillary Clinton gave in Indiana on Friday and Saturday had the same topic sentence. “My campaign is about jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs,” she said, always to thunderous applause.

In Bloomington, Kantor said Clinton promised to bring nothing less than economic revolution to the decaying Rust Belt. But in Fort Wayne, linking the economy to environmental concerns, she told her listeners, “We’re going to create green-collar jobs.”

Kantor noted, “Mrs. Clinton has a reputation as an effective listener, and she is finally putting that skill to full use in her appearances, showing her audiences how closely she tracks their concerns.”

On outsourcing in Gary, Kantor said Clinton made her case with an updated version of Martin Niemöller’s poem about the victims of the Nazis; Clinton told her listeners:

“They came for the steel companies and nobody said anything. They came for the auto companies and nobody said anything. They came for the office companies, people who did white-collar service jobs, and no one said anything. And they came for the professional jobs that could be outsourced and nobody said anything. So this is not just about steel,” she finished.

Kantor reported that nearly all of Clinton’s crowds in Indiana were large and “noisily appreciative.”

Clinton stayed to greet ardent supporters after the event in Fort Wayne, and fans snapped her picture with camera phones or the disposable variety, Kantor said, adding that “One fan locked eyes with the candidate and mouthed a message: You’re going to win.”

Elizabeth Edwards on the Press

Photo credits: Getty Images

Throughout Campaign 2008, I’ve done my share of complaining about the media, especially since the Democratic debate last October in Philadelphia hosted by MSNBC. That’s when Tim Russert and Brian Williams launched the media’s sustained effort to knock Hillary Clinton from her frontrunner status and sweep Obama to an early coronation.

Evidently, Elizabeth Edwards from her front-row view during her husband John’s campaign also noticed how much power the media has in picking our president. In an op-ed in today’s NY Times titled “Bowling 1, Health Care 0,” Mrs. Edwards critiques the media’s disservice to the American people in Campaign 2008.

Mrs. Edwards begins with the most recent primary:

“For the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?

“Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut. After having spent more than a year on the campaign trail with my husband, John Edwards, I’m not surprised.

“Why? Here’s my guess: The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.

“But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture.”

Mrs. Edwards’ observations about how the media chose the characters and constructed the story line for the campaign are obvious with hindsight:

“Watching the campaign unfold, I saw how the press gravitated toward a narrative template for the campaign, searching out characters as if for a novel: on one side, a self-described 9/11 hero with a colorful personal life, a former senator who had played a president in the movies, a genuine war hero with a stunning wife and an intriguing temperament, and a handsome governor with a beautiful family and a high school sweetheart as his bride. And on the other side, a senator who had been first lady, a young African-American senator with an Ivy League diploma, a Hispanic governor with a self-deprecating sense of humor and even a former senator from the South standing loyally beside his ill wife. Issues that could make a difference in the lives of Americans didn’t fit into the narrative template and, therefore, took a back seat to these superficialities.”

The astute Mrs. Edwards asserts:

“News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.”

Members of the electorate who wish to be better informed owe it to themselves to first read Mrs. Edwards’ op-ed in its entirety and thereafter continue to call the media to account.

Read More.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shades of Alice Palmer: Old Politics Haunts Obama in Indiana

Barack Obama has positioned himself in the Democratic race as the harbinger of the new politics who will single-handedly clean up Washington and rid government of the influence of lobbyists, etc., etc.

In spite of the fact that he’s been exposed several times for having been repeatedly on the take from lobbyists and for pandering to the oil industry, Obama continues to boast of a spotless record. He also conveniently forgets some of the roughshod tactics he’s used for his political advancement.

Christi Parsons at the Swamp (Chicago Tribune) reminds potential voters of an unsavory incident in Obama’s history involving another Illinois state senator that has recently come back to haunt the messiah on the campaign trail in Indiana.

Parsons writes:

“Joining Chelsea Clinton and other women leaders to campaign for Hillary Clinton today is Alice Palmer, the former state senator who picked Obama to be her successor back in the mid-90s. When she tried to reclaim her spot, though, Obama got her booted from the ballot.”

Parsons continues;

“The day of campaigning culminates tonight with a ‘Women for Hillary’ rally in New Albany. The women plan to talk about Clinton's plans for the economy, job creation and the middle class.

“Palmer's story is more familiar in our town {than} it is in Indiana, even in the northwest section of Hoosierland that consumes so much of the Chicago news media. Still, the national press has shown an interest in the early account of Obama playing hardball, and Palmer's presence may remind some of them of the story.”

As demonstrated in Pennsylvania the other day, a majority of Americans don’t need the reminder at this point; we had our eyes opened a while back to the Obama campaign strategy that says one thing and does another.

A Word About Hillary to the Undecideds

Photo credits: Getty

At The Moderate Voice, Damozel has posted ten positives for Hillary – ten good reasons to vote for the senator from New York:

1. Hillary grasps economic concepts: knowledge a president will need in January — given our nation’s debt, job loss, credit crunch, recession….

2. Hillary has a plan to get us out of Iraq, a plan that the 34 flag rank military officers who endorsed Hillary also find impressive.

3. Hillary has a health care plan that offers the broadest coverage for Americans.

4. Hillary’s Senate committee assignments encompass a wide array of issues — including veterans affairs, education, military issues, labor, health, and the environment — which give her a solid foundation from which to help shape public policy.

5. Hillary understands foreign policy and has dealt with officials from dozens of other nations. This will be useful, as our nation tries to solve problems with nations of the Middle East, Africa, South America, Europe….

6. Hillary has broad support among American voters, evinced by her wins in the primaries of big states (e.g., California and New York) and swing states (e.g., Florida and Ohio). In short, Hillary’s in a good position to compete with John McCain.

7. Hillary has demonstrated concern for fellow Americans — starting with her civil rights activities during college and her work during the seven years after college, which she devoted to public service (instead of taking her Yale law degree straight to lucrative arenas).

8. Hillary has broad life experience. As well as public service, she has experience in private law practice and the corporate realm, which gives her the perspective needed to help reconcile our nation’s many competing interests.

9. Hillary has learned how to get things done in Washington, both as a second-term senator and as a First Lady. For seven years, she has worked with members of Congress, some of whom had been nasty to her family. Hillary put aside the personal stuff and worked on getting things done.
10. Hillary is strong, resilient, and tenacious. She has faced more scrutiny and ugly attacks than most politicians, yet she’s still standing. Better than that, she’s still fighting. That’s the spirit a president needs in order to solve the many grave problems our nation faces. (D. Cupples, Buck Naked Politics Politics)

Damozel concludes:

“The next president is going to have a hard, nasty slog cleaning up after Bush. Why put Obama through it? He only thinks he wants to be president right now because he hasn’t seen close-up with the job involves. Save him and his glamour and aura and fabulousness for the next election cycle, after he’s shown that he can stand up to harsh scrutiny as well as Hillary.”

More on Keith Olbermann’s Brutal Hillary Bashing

Photo credits: MSNBC

MyDD has this to say in response to Keith Olbermann’s on-the-air suggestion that someone should use physical force to take Hillary Clinton out of the Democratic race:

“Where is the uproar, the outrage, the demands for Olbermann's resignation? We know that such comments would be unacceptable if they were aimed at Obama.”


Friday, April 25, 2008

Media Recovering from Obama Intoxication, except for MSNBC’s Olbermann

Photo credits: AP

Scanning the online media this morning has been a dizzying exercise. I’ve gone from suggestions that the press has finally overcome its intoxication with Obama to at last recognize Hillary Clinton as the more substantive candidate to Keith Olbermann’s on-the-air, blatantly misogynist comment that someone should physically beat Clinton up to force her out of the Democratic race.

To prepare myself for the usual assault on Hillary Clinton that I’ve learned to expect from the media, I began at the NY Times with Paul Krugman’s predictably Clinton-friendly comments under the heading, “Self-Inflicted Confusion.”

Krugman begins:

“After Barack Obama’s defeat in Pennsylvania, David Axelrod, his campaign manager, brushed it off: “Nothing has changed tonight in the basic physics of this race.”

“He may well be right — but what a comedown. A few months ago the Obama campaign was talking about transcendence. Now it’s talking about math. ‘Yes we can has become ‘No she can’t.”’

Krugman explains Obama’s inability to win over the working class and sweep easily toward the nomination this way:

“From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for” (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not.”

At the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz rambles all over the place, highlighting first the unfortunate timing of Jeremiah Wright’s attempt to set the record straight in a media blitz including Bill Moyers, the NAACP, and the National Press Club.

Kurtz goes on to cite Michael Novak’s astonishment in the National Review at the turn of events since Pennsylvania. Novak asks, “Did Pennsylvania Deflate Obama?”

"It always amazes me how swiftly the narrative can change. Seemingly in an instant, serious commentators reverse the direction of their analysis and change their tone of voice, while their excitement level shoots upwards. Monday, it was all: 'No matter what happens in Pennsylvania, Obama has the election all locked up.' Wednesday morning, it is 'What a great, gutsy victory it is for Hillary. Hillary is really a fighter. She won labor-union households, those over 40 years old, white men and white women, churchgoers, hunters--and most of these by high margins. She won Catholics by 70 percent. These are the groups a Democratic nominee must win against McCain in November.'

"Some are even now working out the arithmetic to show that it is possible for her to win the popular vote by the last primary, June 6. Possible, but not likely."

I felt a touch of euphoria over at when I read “The Week That Clinton Came Back.”

The CNN piece notes the biggest question about Clinton’s campaign for weeks had been “when it would finally succumb to being so second-place.

“This week that changed. She won the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points, a margin that convinced contributors to flood her Internet site with $10 million.

“The win and the windfall don't change the race. She is still behind in every way that matters. But the race has changed anyway.

“In the six-week build-up to the Pennsylvania primary, Obama's well-run campaign lost some of its luster.

“Americans learned that his former pastor gave angry anti-American speeches, that Obama was friends with a former terrorist, and that he seemed to think small-town voters "cling" to God and gun-ownership because they're bitter about the economy.

“Obama supporters blame Clinton for negative and nasty campaigning, but she didn't pick his church, his friends or his words for him.

“Clinton was always more appealing to ordinary, working-class Americans than Obama. While he based his campaign on the promise of 'hope' and 'change,' she offered a catalogue of policies and programs to address concrete concerns.”

The CNN piece concludes: “Clinton has argued consistently that she should win the Democratic nomination because she'd be more likely to defeat the Republicans and win the White House.

“If people nationwide think like the ones in Pennsylvania, she may be right.”

My head was still spinning when I checked in at the Huffington Post, Obama’s chief mouthpiece in the blogosphere. HuffPost’s political editor Tom Edsall is perturbed that “In a blink of an eye, the media has jumped ship from the Obama campaign and become a crucial Clinton ally, pressing just the message -- that Obama is a likely loser in the general election -- that Hillary and her allies have been promoting for the past six weeks.”

Edsall laments:

“The new tenor of media coverage is visible almost everywhere, from Politico, Time and The New Republic to The Washington Post and The New York Times.”

What Edsall apparently missed, however, is a piece by Rachel Sklar in today’s Huffpost, where only an occasional pro-Clinton piece is allowed. Sklar responds to an over-the-top comment by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC (watch video):

"Olbermann was discussing the election with Newsweek's Howard Fineman, a frequent guest. The topic was, how can a winner finally be determined in this never-ending Democratic race for the nomination? Of course, the assumption was that it was Clinton that should be shown the door (despite clearly still earning her spot in the race thanks to, um, voters). Fineman said that, all the delegate math aside, ultimately it was going to take 'some adults somewhere in the Democratic party to step in and stop this thing, like a referee in a fight that could go on for thirty rounds. Those are the super, super, super delegates who are going to have to decide this.'

"Said Olbermann: 'Right. Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out."'

Sklar asks: “What does that mean? Really, it can only mean one thing: Beating the crap out of Hillary Clinton, to the point where she is physically incapable of getting up and walking out. At minimum. We know this. We know this because we have all seen movies where people are invited into private places to have "discussions" and the unruly party is, um, dealt with accordingly. It's an unmistakably violent image.”


One of the cruelest realities I’ve faced in the Democratic primary is that many who describe themselves as liberal are liberal in every way except when it comes to equal rights for women; Olbermann is obviously such a tragically flawed liberal.

Nevertheless, I conclude my post today with a sigh of relief that overall the media in America finally appears to be coming to its senses.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

After Pennsylvania: How Sweet It Is For Hillary!

For weeks the media had been dismissive of Hillary Clinton, as if Barack Obama had already locked up the Democratic primary. And it was widely accepted that both the MSM and the blogosphere, with the occasional exception, were in the tank for Obama. Consequently, few were surprised that most of the major newspapers in Pennsylvania had endorsed the Illinois senator. Fortunately for Clinton, the working class in the keystone state outnumbered the press.

Since Clinton trounced Obama the other night in Pennsylvania, a new day has dawned and wonder of wonders, at least some in the media have begun showing the senator from New York renewed respect.

You have to love this headline in today’s NY Times: “Fresh Off Pennsylvania Victory, Clinton Raises Millions, Mostly Online”

Staff writers Jeff Zeleny and John M. Broder begin their newly invigorated commentary:

“NEW ALBANY, Ind. — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fund-raising roared to life on Wednesday, with her campaign collecting $10 million in the hours after she won the Pennsylvania primary, and the fresh infusion of cash immediately went to helping her mount a vigorous fight in Indiana, the next primary state.”

Zeleny and Broder noted Obama’s efforts in Indiana to reassure superdelegates that he was still the frontrunner but added:

“Mrs. Clinton’s overnight fund-raising success, however, gave her the means to compete on a more level field with Mr. Obama. Campaign officials said they raised $10 million in online donations in the 24 hours after her Pennsylvania victory, the campaign’s best one-day money haul. The contributors included at least 70,000 new donors, the officials said.”

The two NY Times staff writers described in detail the forceful and focused launch of Clinton’s campaign in the Hoosier state:

“Indiana, like North Carolina, holds its primary on May 6. Mrs. Clinton is seeking to replicate her campaigns from Ohio and Pennsylvania to win over voters there who share many similarities and concerns. She arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday sharply focused on the economy, by far the chief concern of Democratic voters across the country, according to exit polls. She promised that as president she would deliver “jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs” across the Rust Belt, which has seen a severe erosion of manufacturing jobs in recent decades.

“A senior Clinton aide said that she would tailor her message in Indiana to appeal to lower-income workers in the cities and to voters in rural areas and small towns.

“The aide said Mrs. Clinton would continue to raise questions about Mr. Obama’s readiness to face the many economic and national security challenges facing the country. He did not rule out running some version of an advertisement that the campaign ran in the final days of the Pennsylvania race showing images of the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and Osama bin Laden and questioning Mr. Obama’s fitness to lead in perilous times.

“She has two advertisements on the air in Indiana, both focusing on trade and the loss of jobs.

“Her campaign is also circulating fliers in Indiana criticizing Mr. Obama’s health care plan, claiming that it would leave 15 million Americans uncovered, a claim Mr. Obama disputes.”

The article closed with a word to the wise from Kip Tew, a former state Democratic party chairman and Obama supporter, concerning the upcoming Indiana primary:

“It’s hard to predict how they will vote,” he said. “People have consistently underestimated the power of the Clinton brand in Democratic politics.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gracious in Victory, Clinton Celebrates Solid Pennsylvania Win

Hillary Clinton’s victory speech (watch video) last night was warm and gracious and not overly long as she recalled her family ties in the keystone state and thanked husband Bill, daughter Chelsea, her mother and all of her supporters who helped make her solid win possible.

Barack Obama had already high-tailed it to Indiana when he gave his long, drawn out concession speech, seizing the opportunity to once again falsely claim that neither he, nor his campaign, has ever taken money from lobbyists and in his typically passive-aggressive style lob other indirect criticisms at Clinton without naming her.

John Whitesides (Reuters) reported this morning:

“Hillary Clinton said Wednesday her victory over rival Barack Obama in Pennsylvania showed she had the broad support needed to recapture the White House for Democrats in November's presidential election.

“Latest official figures from Tuesday's Pennsylvania contest pared back the margin of her victory slightly, but she could still claim a strong win as the two took their increasingly negative battle into its final states.

“Obama emerged from the latest, and most acrimonious, bout in the state-by-state contest still holding a narrow lead in popular votes and in delegates who select the party's nominee at its August convention.

“‘I've won the states we have to win -- Ohio, now Pennsylvania," Clinton told CNN. "If you look at the broad base of support that I have accumulated it really is the foundation on which we build our victory come the fall.’

“The Pennsylvania Department of State said that with more than 99.1 percent of the vote counted Clinton was beating Obama by 54.3 percent to 45.7 percent. Earlier figures had showed a margin of about 10 percent.

“The win paid immediate dividends for the cash-strapped New York senator, who said she took in $3 million in the following hours.

“Both candidates immediately looked to the next round of contests on May 6 in North Carolina, where Obama is favored, and Indiana, which is considered a toss-up.

“Clinton survived a heavy advertising onslaught in Pennsylvania by Obama, who outspent her by more than 2-to-1.”

Read More

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hillary Clinton Projected Winner of Pennsylvania

With seven percent reporting, CNN has projected Hillary Clinton the winner of Pennsylvania with 52% to Obama's 48%.

Bellwether Poll Gives Clinton Double-Digit Lead in Pennsylvania

Photo credits: Courtesy of

Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, reports in Political Intelligence (Boston Globe) this morning that Hillary Clinton could snag the double-digit win she wants in Pennsylvania today, according to an election-eve poll of Democrats in a bellwether county.

Commenting further, Rhee said,

“She led Barack Obama 52 percent to 40 percent in polling conducted Sunday and Monday in Allegheny County around Pittsburgh in a Suffolk University survey released today, a slightly larger margin than the statewide Suffolk poll done over the weekend.

“Suffolk pollsters say they used similar bellwether counties to correctly predict results in prior Democratic primaries in New Hampshire, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Ohio. They picked Allegheny County because its election results mirrored the statewide results in the 1988 and 2000 Democratic and Republican primaries.

Rhee cited a statement by David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center:

“A cautionary word or two: Past bellwether performance is a guide but not a 100 percent guarantee of future performance. New bellwethers often are created every election cycle as people migrate and as development and geography-driven issues emerge. In addition, local endorsements from popular people can skew margins.”

In comparison, Rhee said:

“Other recent polls have given Clinton a single-digit lead heading into today's make-or-break nomination contest, the first in six weeks.”

Monday, April 21, 2008

Late Breaking Pennsylvania Polls Favor Clinton

It’s Monday morning, and the latest polls in Pennsylvania show Obama’s false negative attacks on Clinton aren’t helping him. Clinton leads Obama in each poll as indicated below:

Zogby 48% to 42%
Strategic Vision 48% to 41%
ARG 54% to 41%
Mason-Dixon 48% to 43%

According to Newsmax/Zogby:

“The final weekend before tomorrow's important primary election in Pennsylvania was good for New York's Hillary Clinton, as she made a definitive move toward victory over rival Illinois' Barack Obama, a fresh Newsmax/Zogby daily telephone tracking poll shows.

“She gained two points over the past 24 hours as Obama lost one point, and she now leads 48% to 42%, the latest polling shows. Meanwhile, the undecideds dropped by two points. Her edge was three points yesterday but had wobbled within a tight margin. Clinton's advantage is still within the margin of error, but she is close to getting beyond it as Election Day looms.

“The two-day tracking survey, which was conducted April 19-20, 2008, included 11% who were either undecided or supported someone else.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obama Camp Goes Negative in Pennsylvania

After noting the Obama camp’s accusation that Clinton is running a negative campaign, a press release today from Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s Communications Manager reports: “In fact, in just the last 48-hours, Sen. Obama has flooded airwaves, radio, phone lines and mailboxes with negative and false attacks against Hillary. This unprecedented barrage coincides with a weak debate performance and Sen. Obama's slide in the daily Gallup poll.”

The press release continues:

1. In the most outrageous attack of the campaign, Obama surrogates held a conference call attacking Hillary's character, claiming she did not have the "moral authority" to lay a wreath on the Tomb on the Unknown Soldier. [Link]

2. Launched a television ad featuring false, negative attacks on Hillary's health care plan. [Link]

3. Distributed negative mail about Hillary's trade positions, complete with citations even Sen. Obama has acknowledged have been debunked. [Link]

4. Flooded voters with robocalls saying Hillary will "say anything" to win.

Schumer Predicts Significant Win for Clinton in Pennsylvania Primary

Photo credits: Getty

Hillary Clinton has been campaigning non-stop this weekend, and her supporters have reason for optimism as the Pennsylvania primary rapidly approaches. The latest Pennsylvania poll by the American Research Group taken April 17-19 has Clinton leading Obama by 13 points at 54% to 41%.

On that note, Bloomberg reports today that New York Senator Charles Schumer, predicted Clinton will have a ``significant'' win in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

``My guess is she will win Pennsylvania by a significant margin,'' Schumer, a Clinton supporter, said today on ``Fox News Sunday.'' He declined to predict the margin of victory.
Schumer also noted that after Pennsylvania, a Clinton win in Indiana would give her ``momentum.''

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Clinton Gains Second Ohio Superdelegate in Two Days

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of northeastern Ohio has announced his support for Hillary Clinton for president. Ryan joins Congresswoman Betty Sutton as the second Democratic Ohio superdelegate to back Clinton in two days.

In announcing his support, Ryan said, "The people of the 17th (Congressional) District overwhelmingly voted for Senator Clinton in the Democratic primary. I look forward to working with her to see that our community is the beneficiary of her economic policies."

Clinton Passes Obama in Gallup Daily Poll

Photo credits: Getty Images

Gallup’s latest tracking poll shows “Hillary Clinton now receives 46% of the support of Democrats nationally, compared to 45% for Barack Obama, marking the first time Obama has not led in Gallup's daily tracking since March 18-20.”

Clinton continues to lead Obama in trial heats with Republican John McCain. According to Frank Newport, “There has been no change in the general election trial heats, with Obama's margin over Republican John McCain at 45% to 44% among registered voters nationally, and Clinton's margin at 46% to 44%.”

Politico’s Analysis: Media in the Tank for Obama

Photo credits: NY Times

At Politico this morning John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei have posted an article titled “Obama’s Secret Weapon: The Media.” The article is largely a response to the reaction to the Philadelphia debate between Obama and Clinton hosted by ABC the other day:

“The shower of indignation on Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos over the last few days is the clearest evidence yet that the Clintonites are fundamentally correct in their complaint that she has been flying throughout this campaign into a headwind of media favoritism for Obama.

“Last fall, when NBC’s Tim Russert hazed Clinton with a bunch of similar questions—a mix of fair and impertinent—he got lots of gripes from Clinton supporters.

“But there was nothing like the piling on from journalists rushing to validate the Obama criticisms and denouncing ABC’s performance as journalistically unsound.”

Harris and Vanderhei continue their analysis of the debate:

“In fact, the balance of political questions (15) to policy questions (13) was more substantive than other debates this year that prompted no deluge of protests. The difference is that this time there were more hard questions for Obama than for Clinton.

“Moreover, those questions about Jeremiah Wright, about Obama’s association with 1960s radical William Ayers, about apparent contradictions between his past and present views on proven wedge issues like gun control, were entirely in-bounds. If anything they were overdue for a front-runner and likely nominee.

“If Obama was covered like Clinton is, one feels certain the media focus would not have been on the questions, but on a candidate performance that at times seemed tinny, impatient, and uncertain.

“The difference seems clear: Many journalists are not merely observers but participants in the Obama phenomenon.”

In conclusion, Harris and Vanderhei give last week’s debate moderators a pat on the back:

“Gibson and Stephanopoulos handled this balancing act responsibly. They asked tough questions of both candidates. In the wake of the debate, it is time for Obama’s cheerleaders in the media to ask some questions of themselves.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is Obama’s Use of His Middle Finger Presidential?

Photo credit: AP

The first time I saw the video in question, I was struck by the intensity of Barack Obama’s anger as he spoke of the Philadelphia debate. I watched the debate the other day and as I noted in an earlier post, I was pleased to see him get a few tough questions for a change.

I know I’m not alone in my judgment that the video clearly shows Barack Obama crossing the line in his evident contempt for Hillary Clinton, a sitting United States Senator and former first lady. Bonnie Erbe at U.S. News & World Report, who titled her remarks, “Obama’s Wayward Finger,” raises the appropriate questions.

“This is one of those ‘video moments’, Erbe began, “on which I cannot take a position but also cannot let pass unnoticed. Dear reader, please go to the two following websites and decide for yourself. Is Sen. Barack Obama using his middle finger, while talking about Sen. Hillary Clinton, on purpose— or was it an accident?”

Erbe concludes:

“If Obama did this on purpose, it's a sign of incredible immaturity. If he did it by accident, it's a sign of inexperience. If a president were to make an accidental gesture like that while talking about a foreign leader, for example, it could cause a global uproar.”

There you have it: whether Obama did it on purpose or by accident, we should all be even more concerned about his readiness to assume the presidency of the United States.

Nailing Obama’s Slurs Against the Clinton Administration

Paul Krugman has noticed that Barack Obama, with his “bitter” talk, has been clinging to a stereotype made popular by Thomas Frank’s theory spelled out in his 2004 book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas.”

Here’s the deal: Frank’s theory about the typical Kansan has recently been turned on its head, leaving Obama with a false premise on his hands.

But I’ll let Krugman explain:

“Mr. Obama’s comments combined assertions about economics, sociology and voting behavior. In each case, his assertion was mostly if not entirely wrong.

“Start with the economics. Mr. Obama: ‘You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration.’”

Here’s where Krugman nails Obama for his casual slurs against the Clinton Administration:

“There are, indeed, towns where the mill closed during the 1980s and nothing has replaced it. But the suggestion that the American heartland suffered equally during the Clinton and Bush years is deeply misleading.

“In fact, the Clinton years were very good for working Americans in the Midwest, where real median household income soared before crashing after 2000. (You can see the numbers at my blog,

“We can argue about how much credit Bill Clinton deserves for that boom. But if I were a Democratic Party elder, I’d urge Mr. Obama to stop blurring the distinction between Clinton-era prosperity and Bush-era economic distress.”

Krugman then explains the fallacy in Obama’s sociological assumptions:

“Next, the sociology: ‘And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.’

“The crucial word here isn’t ‘bitter,’ it’s ‘cling.’ Does economic hardship drive people to seek solace in firearms, God and xenophobia?

“It’s true that people in poor states are more likely to attend church regularly than residents of rich states. This might seem to indicate that faith is indeed a response to economic adversity.

“But this result largely reflects the fact that southern states are both church-going and poor; some poor states outside the South, like Maine and Montana, are actually less religious than Connecticut. Furthermore, within poor states, people with low incomes are actually less likely to attend church than those with high incomes. (The correlation runs the opposite way in rich states.)”

“Over all, none of this suggests that people turn to God out of economic frustration.”

“Finally, Mr. Obama, in later clarifying remarks, declared that the people he’s talking about ‘don’t vote on economic issues,’ and are motivated instead by things like guns and gay marriage.

“That’s a political theory made famous by Thomas Frank’s ‘What’s the Matter With Kansas?’ According to this theory, ‘values’ issues lead working-class Americans to act against their own interests by voting Republican. Mr. Obama seemed to suggest that’s also why they support Hillary Clinton.

“I was impressed by Mr. Frank’s book when it came out. But my Princeton colleague Larry Bartels, who had an Op-Ed in The Times on Thursday, convinced me that Mr. Frank was mostly wrong.

“In his Op-Ed, Mr. Bartels cited data showing that small-town, working-class Americans are actually less likely than affluent metropolitan residents to vote on the basis of religion and social values. Nor have working-class voters trended Republican over time; on the contrary, Democrats do better with these voters now than they did in the 1960s.”

To read Krugman’s op-ed in its entirety, go here.

Ohio Superdelegate Endorses Hillary Clinton

File Photo: Congresswoman Betty Sutton

Update: After Congresswoman Betty Sutton announced her endorsement today, former New Jersey Governors Jim Florio and Brendan Byrne both threw their support to Hillary after being picked yesterday as add-on super-delegates. That's three SDs for Hillary today.

Press Release from HillaryClinton.Com

Congresswoman Betty Sutton today announced her endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President. Sutton represents Ohio's 13th Congressional District.

"We are fortunate as a Party and a nation to have two such incredible candidates in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination," said Sutton. "On March 4th, the majority of Democratic voters in the 13th Congressional District and Ohio chose to support Senator Hillary Clinton with their vote. As the Representative for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, I am pledging my support to her as well. "

"I have had the opportunity to engage in significant discussions with Senator Clinton about the concerns and hopes of the people I am so honored to represent. She has demonstrated a keen understanding of the pressing issues, such as the need to create economic opportunity for working families right here in Northeast Ohio."

Sutton served eight years in the Ohio State House prior to being elected to represent Ohio's 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006. Before being elected to Congress, she worked as a labor attorney fighting for the rights of Ohio's workers. Sutton is known as a no-nonsense, capable leader who can build consensus to get the job done. In Congress, she serves on the House Rules Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

"I am pleased to have the support of Congresswoman Betty Sutton, who is known as a champion for the middle class," said Hillary Clinton. "I am looking forward to working with Betty to advance opportunities for the hardworking people of Ohio and across this great nation by expanding local business opportunities, making college more accessible, reforming our trade policies, investing in our infrastructure and fighting to provide families with access to quality and affordable health care."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

University of Pennsylvania Student Paper Endorses Hillary

Photo credits: AP

The Daily Pennsylvanian announced its endorsement of Sen. Hillary Clinton today with a staff editorial that explained:

“But while Obama's charisma far outshines that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, her public service, political experience and tenacity tell us not only ‘Yes we can’ but also ‘How we can.’ As such, we endorse Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination for president.”

The editorial continued:

“Our endorsement is not a rejection of Obama's leadership qualities. But choosing the president of the United States is too important a decision to make based on hope alone. After finishing his term in the Senate and better showing us what he can do for the American people, Obama could one day be a remarkable president. ”Clinton, on the other hand, is ready to lead this nation now. A successful champion for change, her experience in the Senate and as first lady gives her a better understanding of how Washington works. She has the ability to turn policy into reality. And her mastery of causes central to the Democratic Party's platform makes her better suited to challenge presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.”

The editorial staff provided examples of Clinton’s leadership and know how on important issues:

“Take her leadership on health-care issues. In 1993, then-first lady Clinton urged America to embrace universal health care during her keynote speech at Penn's commencement. Unfortunately, she was far ahead of the times. Her proposal was met with fierce resistance and ultimately rejected.
“Refusing to give up, Clinton helped to expand children's health insurance in the late 90's instead. More than a decade later, her new policies - and the concept of universal health care itself - enjoy wider support because of her past work. Indeed, of all the candidates still in the race, she offers the most comprehensive health care proposal. And as with most of her plans, she also has a way to fund it.”

In its conclusing remarks, the editorial offered several additional reasons for its endorsement of Hillary Clinton:

“Some doubt Clinton's ability to bring the country together. But, in New York, her senatorial campaigns united a surprisingly wide coalition of supporters across political and socioeconomic boundaries. She can do the same this November.

“Others are concerned with her support for the Iraq War Resolution. But since then, she has pressed the Bush administration for accountability and demanded a responsible end to the war. She also has far more exposure to national security and foreign policy.

“Ultimately, we are confident in Clinton's ability to implement her agenda. It's this quality that has brought leaders like Mayor Michael Nutter and Governor Ed Rendell to her side. And it's this quality that convinces us to support her as well.”

Hillary’s Philadelphia Win Prompts Flashback to Last October

Photo credit: de Géa for The New York Times

Watching last night’s debate at the National Constitutional Center in the Kimmel Theater in Philadelphia, my thoughts flashed back to an earlier debate in Philly last October when the Democratic participants numbered six. Sponsored by MSNBC, the moderators were Tim Russert and Brian Williams who apparently felt it was their duty to repeatedly set up Hillary Clinton, then the frontrunner, for the clumsy attacks by Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Brian Williams opened the earlier debate:

“Senator Obama, we'll begin with you.

“You gave an interview to The New York Times over the weekend pledging in it to be more aggressive, to be tougher in your campaign against your chief rival for the nomination, the leader among Democrats so far, Senator Clinton, who is here next to you tonight.”

And so it went throughout that first mix-up in “the city of brotherly love.”

Last night, as I listened to the parting words of George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson, my overall impression of ABC’s debate was that in comparison to the earlier farce hosted by MSNBC, this one had been fair.

In a piece for the Huffington Post this morning in which Taylor Marsh responded to the usual attacks from Obama’s cyberspace supporters, Marsh argued that Obama had it coming:

“So no one should be surprised that Obama had a nightmare night. He finally got real questions for which he should have had ready answers. Over the last year Barack Obama has gotten a complete pass on his record, his life and everything associated to his political rise. In fact, if Senator Obama had been subjected to the scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has been subjected to he would have turned to ash by now.

“So forgive me if all the blogospheric bellyaching permeating Democratic circles is not impressing me much. In fact, it's a laugh out loud moment.

“Now don't get me wrong. I'm more than willing to blame the traditional media for piling on a Democrat, which they do often. But do these progressives now crying fowl really believe they could protect Mr. Obama, as his Democratic challengers did all last year, throughout the rest of this campaign? Asking a question about Rev. Wright? A question about William Ayers? The horror! Seriously, is Senator Obama so frail that he shouldn't be subjected to questioning that should have come a long time ago and will inevitably come in the general election? If nothing else and at the very least, everyone in the Democratic party should want to know how he's going to handle this stuff if he's our nominee. Because there can be no doubt that the wingnuts will lock and load Barack's greatest hits, then share them with the electorate in a cascade of negative gifts.”

The Washington Post’s Anne E. Kornblut and Dan Balz began their recap of last night’s debate by zeroing in on Obama’s predominantly defensive posture:

“Sen. Barack Obama repeatedly found himself on the defensive here Wednesday night as he sought to bat away criticism of his remarks about small-town values, questions about his patriotism and the incendiary sermons of his former pastor in a potentially pivotal debate six days before Pennsylvania's presidential primary.”

Kornblut and Balz did not fail to note, that Clinton held Obama to account on troublesome issues. After his explanation for his “bitter” comments, Clinton said:

"Now, that doesn't mean that people are not frustrated with the government. We have every reason to be frustrated, particularly with this administration," she said. "But I can see why people would be taken aback and offended by the remarks."

Although Clinton faced her own awkward moment when pressed about her inaccurate Bosnia account, Kornblut and Balz stated, “Still, most of the focus during the first half of the 90-plus-minute debate at the National Constitution Center was on Obama.”

Peter Canellos at the Boston Globe summed the debate up this way:

“Barack Obama last night staked his presidential campaign on the idea that the American people will look beyond the inevitable gaffes and errors and character attacks of a 24-hour campaign cycle to meet the challenges of a "defining moment" in American history.

“Hillary Clinton staked her campaign on the idea that Americans won't - and that her tougher, more strategic approach to countering Republican attacks is a better way for Democrats to reclaim the White House.”

NY Times writers Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny in their coverage of the debate suggested:

“The result was arguably one of Mr. Obama’s weakest debate performances. He at times appeared annoyed as he sought to answer questions about his former pastor, his reluctance to wear an American flag pin on his lapel and his association in Chicago with former members of the Weather Underground, a radical group that carried out bombings in the 1960s that were intended to incite the overthrow of the government.”

Nagourney and Zeleny described Clinton’s demeanor in reporting policy discussions during the debate:

“Mrs. Clinton appeared, for the most part, calm and in control, particularly when the discussion moved to such questions as how the two candidates would respond to an attack by Iran on Israel and whether they would promise not to raise taxes as president. Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama said they would not raise taxes on middle class Americans — those making less than $200,000 to $250,000 a year — though Mr. Obama, pressed by a questioner, acknowledged that he had said he was open to making more income below that threshold subject to the Social Security payroll tax. They also had differences on the capital gains tax; Mrs. Clinton said that if she were to raise it from its current 15 percent level, it would not be to above 20 percent, while Mr. Obama said he would consider raising it as high as 28 percent.”

Noting that throughout the 90-minute debate, Obama was placed on the defensive, I was interested to discover that Nagourney and Zeleny were also reminded of previous NBC-moderated debates:

“Those issues were raised in a tough round of questions posed by Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Gibson, who in many ways presented a mirror image of earlier debates in which two NBC moderators, Tim Russert and Brian Williams, repeatedly pressed Mrs. Clinton with tough and provocative questions.”

Hillary Clinton won last night's debate in Philadelphia for several reasons: She maintained a calm, poised demeanor throughout the debate; she didn’t flinch from tough questions herself; she consistently held Obama to account; and as always, she outshone her rival on the issues – proving that experience does matter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wow! 100 Pennsylvania Mayors Endorse Hillary for President

If you don't think Obama's "bitter" comments have had any effect on Pennsylvanians, check out this press release listing 100 mayors endorsing Clinton for president:
Harrisburg, PA - Showing strength and momentum in the Keystone State, the Clinton campaign today announced 100 mayors who are endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. Following Senator Obama’s remarks dismissing small town America, mayors joined supporters today in Harrisburg to declare their support for Hillary because of her readiness to lead on day one, her plans to jumpstart the economy, and her Pennsylvania roots and commitment to Pennsylvania values.

"I am proud to have such strong support from 100 of Pennsylvania’s finest mayors," Senator Clinton said. "From small towns to big cities, these mayors work hard every day to improve the lives of the people they serve and they know they need a strong partner in Washington to help them bring affordable health care and revitalize their local economies."
The 100 mayors endorsing Hillary today will work in the final week of the campaign to get out Hillary’s message of change for Pennsylvania and the country. Hillary understands the economic pressures of families who have lost jobs, face foreclosures, and can’t afford health insurance or college tuition. She understands what it’s like to roll up your sleeve and work hard. As president, Hillary will fight for the issues that matter to all Americans starting on day one in the White House.

Mayor John Antoline, Monaca, Beaver County
Mayor Michele Avvisato, Old Forge, Lackawanna County
Mayor Norman Ball, Tunkhannock, Wyoming County
Mayor Anthony Battalini, Aliquippa, Beaver County
Mayor Sam Benyi ,Clarksville, Greene County
Mayor Ronald Besong, Bell Acres, Allegheny County
Mayor Louis Biacchi, Berwick, Columbia County
Mayor James V. Bitonti, Belle Vernon, Fayette County
Mayor Richard Bowen, Taylor, Lackawanna County
Mayor Thomas Brown, Bentleyville, Washington County
Mayor John B.Callahan, Bethlehem, Northampton County
Mayor Willard Canfield, Hallsted, Susquehana County
Mayor Gennaro Cantalupo, Northern Cambria, Cambria County
Mayor Robert P. Carpenter, Laporte, Sullivan County
Mayor Peter M.Casini, South Connellsville, Fayette County
Mayor Joseph J.Cisco, Ellport, Lawrence County
Mayor Anthony Colaizzo, Canonsburg, Washington County
Mayor Esther Cotner, Washingtonville, Montour County
Mayor Carl Cott, Forksville, Sullivan County
Mayor Joan B. Derco, Youngwood, Westmoreland County
Mayor Christopher Doherty, Scranton, Lackawanna County
Mayor Bernard Dubaskas, Edwardsville, Luzerne County
Mayor Gary L. Durkin, Flemington, Clinton County
Mayor Greg Erosenko, Monroeville , Allegheny County
Mayor Emerson M. Fazekas, Versailles, Allegheny County
Mayor Philip Ferrizzi, Bally, Berks County
Mayor Ned C. Fink, Fountain Hill, Lehigh County
Mayor Richard T. Fluck, Hellertown, Northampton County
Mayor Jim France, East Lansdowne, Delaware County
Mayor Ralph Garzia, Brookhaven, Delaware County
Mayor Richard Gassman, Matamoras, Pike County
Mayor Gerald W. Gross, West Easton, Northampton County
Mayor Connie M. Guy, Mountville, Lancaster County
Mayor John Haberland, Coraopolis, Allegheny County
Mayor Loyce L. Harpster, Burnham, Mifflin County
Mayor David Haslett, Avalon, Allegheny County
Mayor Joseph Herbert, West Wyoming, Luzerne County
Mayor William Jenkins, Larksville, Luzerne County
Mayor Joseph Kazan, New Stanton, Westmoreland County
Mayor Joseph Keating, Pittston, Luzerne County
Mayor James F. Kinder, Mount Wolf Boro, York County
Mayor Donald L. Kinosz, Lower Burrell, Westmoreland County
Mayor Philip Krivacek, Duquesne, Allegheny County
Mayor Joseph Daniel Kudlac, Ellsworth, Washington County
Mayor Maxine J. Kuntz, East Prospect, York County
Mayor Michael M. Kutsek, Finleyville, Washington County
Mayor Leonard J. Larkin, Falls Creek, Jefferson County
Mayor Tom Leighton, Wilkes Barre, Luzerne County
Mayor Patrick Loughney, Dunmore, Lackawanna County
Mayor Thomas E. Loukota, Masontown, Fayette County
Mayor Robert J. Lucas, Sharon, Mercer County
Mayor Bernard M. Luketich, Cokeburg, Washington County
Mayor Edward Lyons, North Belle Vernon, Westmoreland County
Mayor Timothy Martin, Freeland, Luzerne County
Mayor Armand Martinelli, East Stroundsburg, Monroe County
Mayor George McCloskey, Norwood, Delaware County
Mayor Raymond McDonough, North Braddock, Allegheny County
Mayor Beverly Merkel, Jessup, Lackawanna County
Mayor John Milander, Jr., Coplay, Lehigh County
Mayor Christian P. Morrison, Tamaqua, Schuylkill County
Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
Mayor Susan O'Connell, Crafton, Allegheny County
Mayor Raymond J. Osmolinski, Sr, Gallitzin, Cambria County
Mayor Salvatore J. Panto, Jr., Easton, Northampton County
Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Allentown, Lehigh County
Mayor Louis Payne, East Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Mayor Joyce Peccon, Carmichaels, Greene County
Mayor Connie Peck, Trappe, Montgomery County
Mayor David Perusso, Wilson, Northampton County
Mayor Delmar Phillips, Frackville, Schuylkill County
Mayor Dennis Pietrandrea, Koppel, Beaver County
Mayor Albert Pipik, Allenport, Washington County
Mayor Dominick Pomposelli, Wilmerding, Allegheny County
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Mayor Judy Reed, Connellsville, Fayette County
Mayor Stephen R. Reed, Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Mayor John D. W. Reiley, Pottsville, Schuylkill County
Mayor Herb Riede, McSherrystown, Adams County
Mayor Joseph Saxton, Bristol, Bucks County
Mayor John Segilia, Moosic, Lackawanna County
Mayor Timothy Shoemaker, Everson, Fayette County
Mayor Matt Sinberg, Yardley, Bucks County
Mayor Joseph E. Sinnott, Erie, Erie County
Mayor Thomas Smith, Blawnox, Allegheny County
Mayor Rick Smith, New Brighton, Beaver County
Mayor Larry Sprowls, Calysville, Washington County
Mayor Jeff Steffler, Wampum, Lawrence County
Mayor Margaret Stock, Butler, Butler County
Mayor F. John Szatkiewicz, Ohioville, Beaver County
Mayor Nicki Todaro, Newell, Fayette County
Mayor Tom Trigona, Johnstown, Cambria County
Mayor TonyWalck, Nesquehoning, Carbon County
Mayor William L. Welch, State College, Centre County
Mayor Leslie Whitehill, Salladasburg, Lycoming County
Mayor Barbara Wilhelm, Dawson, Fayette County
Mayor James E. Wolfe, Tarentum, Allegheny County
Mayor John Yacura, Elizabeth, Allegheny County
Mayor Dorothy Yazurlo, Laflin, Luzerne County
Mayor Jayne Young, Lansdowne, Delaware County
Mayor Stanley Zamerowski, Pringle, Luzerne County

“Could Obama Have Misspoken About His Lack of Ties to Lobbyists?”

Photo credits: Aftermath News

In the Caucus this morning (NY Times) Ariel Alexovich suggests that in tonight’s debate in Philadelphia between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, questions might surface regarding the recent firestorm over Obama’s “bitter” words and indeed, Obama is still struggling to come up with a satisfactory rationale for his San Francisco gaffe.

But Alexovich also mentions another possible challenge Obama might be forced to address this evening. Obama has consistently presented himself as the harbinger of the “new politics” while attempting to smear Hillary Clinton for her supposed ties to lobbyists.

Alexovich asks: “Could Senator Obama have misspoken about his lack of ties to lobbyists? A USA Today investigation claims that ‘his fund-raising team includes 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million last year to lobby the federal government, records show.’ Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million for the Illinois senator’s presidential race. Employees of their firms have given Obama’s campaign $2.26 million, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign finance data shows.”

I’ll be watching the debate this evening, sponsored by ABC at 8 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. CST, to see whether or not the moderators raise these relevant questions with Obama or give him his usual free pass as we’ve seen in previous debates, while doing their best to trip up Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A 91-year-old Woman’s Support for Hillary Clinton

In this new North Carolina ad, Jewel Hodges, a 91-year old woman, explains why she supports Hillary Clinton. It's one of Hillary's best ads. You owe it to yourself to check it out; it will bring tears to your eyes. Here's the link:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Latest ARG Pennsylvania Poll: Clinton Leads Obama by 20 Points

Hillary in Pennsylvania/Cleveland Plain Dealer
According to ARG's latest poll in the Pennsylvania primary, Obama's unprecedented ad buys in the Keystone state may have begun to hurt him: “23% of likely Democratic primary voters say that excessive exposure to Obama's advertising is causing them to support Clinton.” But here's the big news from ARG: Clinton has opened up a huge lead in Pennsylvania of 57% to Obama's 37%. The breakdown:

“Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama 48% to 44% among men (45% of likely Democratic primary voters). Among women, Clinton leads 64% to 31%.

“Clinton leads 64% to 29% among white voters (82% of likely Democratic primary voters). Obama leads 79% to 18% among African American voters (14% of likely Democratic primary voters).

“Clinton leads 52% to 43% among voters age 18 to 49 (50% of likely Democratic primary voters) and Clinton leads 62% to 31% among voters age 50 and older.

“10% of all likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Hillary Clinton in the primary and 24% of likely Democratic primary voters say they would never vote for Barack Obama in the primary.

“23% of likely Democratic primary voters say that excessive exposure to Obama's advertising is causing them to support Clinton.”

Transcript: Hillary Clinton on Faith at Compassion Forum

Photo credits: Bloomberg

Transcript Courtesy of RealClearPolitics


BROWN: Tonight, we're going to spend about half of our time with Senator Clinton, about half of our time with Senator Obama. The order tonight was decided by coin toss. Senator Clinton won and has elected to go first. Questions will come from Jon and me and from some of the faith leaders assembled here in our audience, so let's get started. Without further ado, please welcome the senator from New York, Hillary Clinton.

BROWN: Nice to see you. Welcome.


CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BROWN: Senator Clinton, welcome to you.

CLINTON: Thank you.

BROWN: Jon has got the first question.

CLINTON: Great. Well, it's wonderful to be here. I want to thank Messiah College for hosting this. Very good of you to do this.


MEACHAM: Senator, we'll start with the news. You have been extremely critical of Senator Obama's recent comments in San Francisco in which he argued that some hard-pressed Americans have -- economically hard-pressed Americans have, and I quote, gotten bitter and cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Senator, you have written of how faith sustained you in bitter times. Many of us have been sustained by our faith in bitter times. What exactly is wrong with what Senator Obama had to say?

CLINTON: Well, I'm going to let Senator Obama speak for himself. But from my perspective, the characterization of people in a way that really seemed to be elitist and out of touch is something that we have to overcome.

You know, the Democratic Party, to be very blunt about it, has been viewed as a party that didn't understand and respect the values and the way of life of so many of our fellow Americans.

And I think it's important that we make clear that we believe people are people of faith because it is part of their whole being; it is what gives them meaning in life, through good times and bad times. It is there as a spur, an anchor, to center one in the storms, but also to guide one forward in the day-to-day living that is part of everyone's journey.

And, you know, when we think about the legitimate concerns that people have about trade or immigration, those are problems to be solved. And that's what I think we should be focused on.

But I am very confident that, as we move forward tonight and beyond, people will get a chance to get to know each of us a little better, and that's really what I want to talk about. I will leave it to Senator Obama to speak for himself; he does an excellent job of that.

And I will speak for myself on what my faith journey is and what, you know, leads me to this chair here tonight.

BROWN: But, Senator, you've been out there on the stump attacking him pretty aggressively over this. And his response has been -- and he said it pretty bluntly tonight -- shame on you. You know that he is a man of faith. This is what he's saying. And to suggest that he is demeaning religion is you playing politics.

CLINTON: Well, he will have to speak for himself and provide his own explanation. But I do think it raises a lot of concerns and we've seen that exhibited in the last several days by people here in Pennsylvania, in Indiana where I was yesterday, and elsewhere, because it did seem so much in-line with what often we are charged with.

Someone goes to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco and makes comments that do seem elitist, out of touch and, frankly, patronizing. That has nothing to do with him being a good man or a man of faith.

We had two very good men and men of faith run for president in 2000 and 2004. But large segments of the electorate concluded that they did not really understand or relate to or frankly respect their ways of life.

And I think that is an issue for voters, as I've heard today from people I visited in Scranton and elsewhere. So this is a legitimate political issue. And there are some issues that are not. But this one is.

And I do believe that Senator Obama will have a chance to explain himself tonight. And I'm sure he will take that opportunity.

BROWN: Let's talk about your faith. And we warned people the questions tonight would be pretty personal. So I want to ask you. You said in an interview last year that you believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. And you have actually felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions.

Share some of those occasions with us.

CLINTON: You know, I have, ever since I've been a little girl, felt the presence of God in my life. And it has been a gift of grace that has, for me, been incredibly sustaining. But, really, ever since I was a child, I have felt the enveloping support and love of God and I have had the experiences on many, many occasions where I felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me as I made a journey.

It didn't have to be a hard time. You know, it could be taking a walk in the woods. It could be watching a sunset.

You know, I am someone who has talked a lot about my life. You know more about my life than you know about nearly anybody else's, about 60 books worth...


CLINTON: ... some of which are, you know, frankly, a little bit off-base. But I don't think that I could have made my life's journey without being anchored in God's grace and without having that, you know, sense of forgiveness and unconditional love.

And I am not going to point to one or another matter. I mean, some of my struggles and challenges have been extremely public. And I have talked about how I have been both guided and supported through those, trying to find my own way through, because, for me, my faith has given me the confidence to make decisions that were right for me, whether anybody else agreed with me or not.

And it is just such a part of who I am and what I have lived through for so many years that trying to pull out and say, oh, I remember, I was sitting right there when I felt, you know, God's love embrace me, would be, I think, trivializing what has been an extraordinary sense of support and possibility that I have had with me my entire life.

MEACHAM: Senator, you -- right after New Hampshire, you and I had a conversation a couple of days after that in which you described your moment in the setting where you said that you worked very hard and it was seen as a turning point by many people. You described that as a moment of grace.


MEACHAM: So that is a specific in...

CLINTON: Right, right. Well, you know, Jon, it is -- it is perhaps a reluctance on my part that is rooted in my personal reserve, rooted in the way I was raised, that I worry and I -- you know, I understand you want to ask a lot of personal questions, and I appreciate that. But I also worry, as I suggested to you in that same interview, that you have to walk the walk of faith. And talking about it is important because it's important to share that experience. But I also believe that, you know, faith is just -- it's grace. It's love. It's mystery. It's provocation.

It is everything that makes life and its purpose meaningful as a human being.

CLINTON: And those moments of grace are ones that I cherish and, you know, in asked a specific question about how I felt when I shared my belief that politics is not a game, it is not a who's up, who's down.

I mean, it is a serious search and we are so fortunate because we have taken the gifts that God gave us and we have created this democracy where we choose our leaders and we have to be more mindful of how important and serious a business this is.

And, therefore, when I say politics is not a game, it is really coming from deep within me because I know that we have the opportunity to really give other people a chance to live up to their own God-given potential. And that, to me, is the kind of grace note that makes politics worthwhile. Because, believe me, there's a lot about it that is not particularly welcoming or easy.

But every day as I travel around the country, I meet people whose faith just knocks me over. I mean, I was with a woman in Philadelphia Friday morning whose son was murdered on the streets in Philadelphia, whose grandson was murdered. And she and I just sat together and she told me about how strong her faith is and how it has sustained her and how she believes, you know, God is with her and she doesn't understand why this happened to her son and her grandson.

But every day she's grateful, and she is determined to be the person that she believes God meant her to be. And so when I sit there and I listen to that woman tell me about how it felt and how today she is still, you know, getting up every morning, has a smile on her face, looking to go to her daycare business and take care of all of these children who have been entrusted to her, that's a moment of grace.

But it's not about me. I mean, not every moment of grace is about you. More often it is about the interaction and the relationship. You know, grace is that relationship with God. But it's also the relationships with our fellow human beings in which we know grace is present. And so I just feel very fortunate that, you know, I have been able to experience that and I wish it for everyone.

BROWN: Let's bring a question in from one of the religious leaders joining us tonight. Dr. Joel Hunter, who is senior pastor of the 12,000-member Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. Dr. Hunter?

CLINTON: How are you, Dr. Hunter? Good to see you.

PASTOR JOEL HUNTER, NORTHLAND CHURCH: I'm fine, Senator. Good to see you. Senator, many of the issues we're going to be talking about tonight, Darfur, AIDS, abortion, torture, could present you with choices that will have life and death consequences for countless people around the world. What are the first principles you fall back on to make such decisions? Are there certain activities or references or people with whom you consult in order to do what is morally right?

CLINTON: You know, Dr. Hunter, I think this is one of the challenges that face any of us who are in public life where literally you do have the authority to make these decisions that could very well be life and death decisions and they are daunting and I do not pretend to know how I will deal with every single one of them.

But I do have a sense of the process by which I will try to approach them. And it really is rooted in, you know, my prayer, my contemplation, my study. I think you have to immerse yourself in advice, information, criticism from others. I don't pretend to even believe that I know the answers to a lot of these questions. I don't.

But I do believe that you have to be willing to expose yourself to many different points of view and then you have to make that decision. I think that for a lot of us, decisions are ones that you don't just make and put on a shelf. To be fair to be constantly struggling and challenging yourself, you have to keep opening up that decision and asking.

CLINTON: And very often, as you know, some decisions look like they're 100-to-nothing until you actually examine them. And some decisions truly are right down the middle, and you're not sure which side of the line you will decide upon.

You mentioned some of the very difficult decisions that we are going to face, and there are countless more. How do we get out of Iraq the right way? Everyone knows there is no easy, comfortable decision. I believe we've got to begin taking our troops out of Iraq based on my analysis of what I think is the best path forward for us and for the Iraqis. But I am deeply aware that there will be predictable and unpredictable consequences. And part of making a decision is having to live with the consequences.

And I have been very fortunate in my life to have people whom I feel very comfortable talking to openly, with total frankness, seeking their guidance. They don't all agree with me; they don't all share my view, when I start the conversation, perhaps.

But I don't think you can surround yourself only with people with whom you think you will agree. And, for me, being amongst people who challenge me, who make me uncomfortable, to be very blunt, is an important part of my decision-making process.

I want to push back; I want to argue; I want to raise other hypotheticals and throw them back to see what the outcome is. But at the end of the day, since we are running to be the president of the United States, you have to be comfortable making a decision, because you cannot say, Well, let's put it on the back burner and then get back to it some time when it's clearer, for many of these decisions. And then you have to live with the consequences.

But I hope I will never, ever find myself being defensive or abrupt and dismissive of people who disagree with me. I regret that that often happens in politics, and maybe it's because oftentimes the decision-making process is so exhausting.

You know, if you're a person of faith, after you've prayed, if you're a person willing to subject yourself to criticism, after you've done it, you're just so relieved to make the decision you don't want to revisit it. But I don't think that a president can afford to do that.

MEACHAM: Senator, do you believe personally that life begins at conception?

CLINTON: I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out.

But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

And as some of you've heard me discuss before, I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare.

And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices.

I have supported adoption, foster care. I helped to create the campaign against teenage pregnancy, which fulfilled our original goal 10 years ago of reducing teenage pregnancies by about a third. And I think we have to do even more.

CLINTON: And I am committed to doing that. And I guess I would just add from my own personal experience, I have been in countries that have taken very different views about this profoundly challenging question.

Some of you know, I went to China in 1995 and spoke out against the Chinese government's one-child policy, which led to forced abortions and forced sterilization because I believed that we needed to bear witness against what was an intrusive, abusive, dehumanizing effort to dictate how women and men would proceed with respect to the children they wished to have.

And then shortly after that, I was in Romania and there I met women who had been subjected to the communist regime of the 1970s and '80s where they were essentially forced to bear as many children as possible for the good of the state. And where abortion was criminalized and women were literally forced to have physical exams and followed by the secret police and so many children were abandoned and left to the orphanages that, unfortunately, led to an AIDS epidemic.

So, you know, when I think about this issue, I think about the whole range of concerns and challenges associated with it and I will continue to do what I can to reduce the number and to improve and increase the care for women and particularly the adoption system and the other opportunities that women would have to make different choices.

BROWN: Senator, I want to go to the other end of the spectrum and the end of life and ask you, do you believe it is compassionate, that it is appropriate to let someone who is really suffering choose to end their life?

CLINTON: Again, this is one of those incredibly challenging issues. You know, the Terry Schiavo case in Florida posed that for many people. And it was one of those decisions to go back to Dr. Hunter's point, where there were people of good faith and people of strong feelings on both sides about what should happen to that woman's life.

And I don't know that any of us is in a position to make that choice for families or for individuals, but I don't want us also to condone government action that would legitimize or encourage end-of-life decisions. Somehow there has to be a framework for us to determine how can people who are either able to make these decisions on their own do so? Or if they are not, how best do we create a decision process for their families to try to decide?

And now we are being faced with a lot of these difficult decisions because of what the world we live in today with modern technology and so much else. And we're going to have to come to grips with them one way or another.

BROWN: We've got to take a quick break, a commercial break. We'll be back. Much more with Senator Clinton, right after this.


BROWN: Welcome back to the Compassion Forum, everyone. We're here with Senator Hillary Clinton.

And Senator, there are a lot of Americans who are uncomfortable with the conversation that we're having here tonight. That they believe religion already has way too much influence in political life and public life. How do you reassure them?

CLINTON: Well, I understand that concern because part of our obligation as leaders in America is to make sure that any conversation about religion is inclusive and respectful. And that has not always happened, as we know. And it is so personal. The spiritual journey that each of us takes or doesn't take.

And I think it's important that we recognize that for good cause, I mean, we have been such a vibrant nation when it comes to religious experience in large measure because we've always protected ourselves against, you know, religion going too far, being too intrusive. So it is a balance. And we want religion to be in the public square. If you are a person of faith, you have a right and even an obligation to speak from that wellspring of your faith. But to do so in a respectful and inclusive way.

So I understand why some people, even religious people, even people of faith might say, why are you having this forum? And why are you exploring these issues from two people who are vying to be president of the United States?

And I think that's a fair question to ask. I am here because I think it's also fair for us to have this conversation. But I'm very conscious of how thoughtful we must proceed.

BROWN: Another question from the audience. Rabbi Steve Gutow, who is director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs is with us. Rabbi?


CLINTON: Yes, Rabbi.

GUTOW: Back to China. China has continued to persecute and subject to oppression the people of Tibet. It continues to be the largest supplier of weapons to Sudan and the largest purchaser of its oil. Let's just say China is not doing all it can to stop the genocide in Darfur. You have said that America needs to return to being a moral voice of the world.

Is our participation in the Beijing Olympics harmful to that moral voice?

CLINTON: Well, Rabbi, I appreciate your asking this question because I think it's a question of both political and moral significance. And that's why last week I called on our president to decide he would not attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics because that is a public and very obvious ratification of our government's approval of the Beijing government's actions.

CLINTON: Unless the Chinese began to take very visible steps to begin to end the suppression of the Tibetans and undermining their culture and religious beliefs, and if we could get more cooperation out of the Chinese government with respect to Sudan.

And, of course, I would welcome even more action on behalf of human rights. But the challenge is, how do we try to influence the Chinese government? And I believe we have missed many opportunities during the Bush administration to do so.

In fact, I think it's fair to say our policy toward China is incoherent and that has not been in the best interest of our values or our strategic interest. So I would urge the president at least to consider and, therefore, publicly say that he will not be attending the opening ceremonies.

And let's see whether the Chinese government begins to respond because that for them would be a great loss of face and perhaps we would get more cooperation. We would get the process going that the Dalai Lama has asked for over many years.

There could be a lot of ways that the Chinese government demonstrated it heard our concerns.

BROWN: A question from Reverend William Shaw. He is the president of the National Baptist Convention. Reverend Shaw?

CLINTON: He is. Hello, Reverend Shaw. Good to see you again.

REV. WILLIAM J. SHAW, NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION: Senator. Current U.S. policies toward developing countries -- trade policies, make it sometimes extremely difficult for poor people to access inexpensive generic drugs for the treatment of AIDS and other sicknesses.

How would you shape the policies of your administration to ensure that the poor would have access to and could secure the drugs that they need to improve the quality of their lives, of their families and even the future of their country?

CLINTON: Well, Reverend Shaw, I agree with your description of this problem, and I believe that our government must do so much more to get generic drugs and low-cost drugs to people suffering. Not only from HIV/AIDS, but the range of diseases that affect disproportionately the poor. It's one of the reasons why I voted against the free trade agreement with Central America, because there was a provision that would give even more power to our pharmaceutical companies to prevent exactly doing what you are discussing.

I have been an outspoken advocate in urging that both our great pharmaceutical companies -- which do a lot of good. Because, after all, they invent the compounds and put them together that the generics then are able to copy.

But we need to do much more to get our pharmaceutical companies to work with us to get the drug costs down and to open the pathway for generic drugs. And that's going to take presidential leadership.

I commend President Bush for his PEPFAR initiative. It was a very bold and important commitment, but it didn't go far enough in opening up the door to generics and getting the costs down.

And as president, I will do that.

MEACHAM: Senator, we've heard about HIV/AIDS. Many people here are concerned about Darfur and a number of other humanitarian issues. Why do you think it is that a loving God allows innocent people to suffer?

CLINTON: Well...

(LAUGHTER) MEACHAM: And we just have 30 seconds.

CLINTON: Yes. You know, that is the subject of generations of commentary and debate. And I don't know. I can't wait to ask him. Because I have...


CLINTON: I have just pondered it endless, endlessly.


CLINTON: But I do want to just add that what that means to me is that in the face of suffering, there is no doubt in my mind that God calls us to respond. You know, that's part of what we are expected to do. For whatever reason it exists, its very existence is a call to action. Certainly in, you know, our...


CLINTON: You know, in my Judeo-Christian faith tradition, in both the Old and the New Testament, the incredible demands that God places on us and that the prophets ask of us, and that Christ called us to respond to on behalf of the poor are unavoidable.

CLINTON: And it's always been curious to me how our debate about religion in America too often misses that. You know, His Holiness, the pope, is going to be coming to America next week, and he's been a strong voice on behalf of what we must do to deal with poverty, and deal with injustice, and deal with what is truly our obligations toward those who are the least among us.

So maybe, you know, the Lord is just waiting for us to respond to his call, because this despair, this impoverishment of body and soul is what we are expected to be spending our time responding to, and so few of us do.

Even those who are doing wonderful work with organizations represented in this audience, we are just not doing enough. And it's a personal call; it's a family community, religious call; and it's a governmental call. And we've got to do more to respond to that call.


BROWN: Quickly, just now you brought up the Bible. We were talking theology. Do you have a favorite Bible story?

CLINTON: Oh, I have so many of them. You know, I was fortunate as a child growing up to be read Bible stories, to go to Sunday school, to go to Bible school. And Bill and I read, you know, Bible stories to Chelsea.

And, you know, I have talked about Bible stories and parables a lot in my life with friends. And, you know, it depends upon what's going on in my life at the time.

But clearly, for me, the recent Purim holiday for Jews raised the question of Esther. And I have been -- ever since I was a little girl -- a great admirer of Esther. And I used to ask that that be read to me over and over again, because there weren't too many models of women who had the opportunity to make a decision, to take a chance, a risk that, you know, was very courageous.

And so that's the one that's most recently on my mind, because I have some rabbi friends who send me readings that go with the scripture of the week. And certainly, Esther is someone who I wish I knew even more about than what we know from the Bible.

BROWN: A question from Eboo Patel, who is a Muslim, is the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core.



QUESTION: As-Salamu Alaykum, Senator Clinton.

CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Eboo Patel. I'm an American Muslim, and I lead an organization called the Interfaith Youth Core. And it's my privilege to watch a range of faith communities come together around the common value of compassion.

Americans of all faiths and no faith at all genuinely believe in compassion and want to apply that in addressing global poverty and climate change. Can we do that without changing our standard of living?

CLINTON: Well, I believe there is so much we can do that we're not doing that would not change our standard of living as an imposition from the outside, but which would inspire us to take action that would impact how we live.

And I don't think we would notice it demonstrably undermining our standard of living, but it would give us the opportunity to set an example and to be a model.

When I think about the simple steps any one of us can take -- you know, turning off lights when one leaves a room, unplugging appliances, changing to compact florescent bulbs -- you know, my husband and I have done that -- I don't think it's impacted our standard of living, but we feel like we're making a small contribution to limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, you know, being more mindful of our purchases.

I hope that, as president, I can model that and lead that effort so that people don't feel so threatened by the changes we're talking about when it comes to dealing with global warming.

In preparation for the pope's visit, I was reading that the Vatican is the first carbon-neutral state in the world now. Well, that shows leadership. And I don't think it has impacted the work or the living. You know, Ambassador Flynn, who was our ambassador to the Vatican, might know. But it was a great statement.

And we can do more.

CLINTON: And I think that, with leadership, people will find ways to take those first steps. And then we can take even more. Now there's so much that I have to do as president with the cap in trade system, with moving away from our dependence on foreign oil, but I'm going to look for ways that will cushion the costs on middle class and working and poor people. Because I don't believe that they should have to bear more than what they are bearing right now as we make this transition. And I believe we can accomplish that.

BROWN: Let's go to Lisa Sharon Harper. She is the executive director of New York Faith and Justice. Welcome to you.

LISA SHARON HARPER, N.Y. FAITH AND JUSTICE: Thank you. Senator Clinton, underdeveloped nations and regions that lack widespread access to education and basic resources like water, and they tend to be some of the most unstable and dangerous regions of the world. Places like Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan. Our national security is at stake, but our military is stretched. As president, would you consider committing U.S. troops to a purely humanitarian mission under the leadership of a foreign flag?

CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying, No. 1, I believe strongly that we have to get back to leading on issues like health care and education and women's rights around the world. I have introduced legislation called The Education for All Act. And it's bipartisan. I introduced it first in '04 and then we reintroduced it on a bipartisan basis in '07. And the work that I would want to do to have the United States lead the world in putting the 77 million kids who aren't in school into school, having us lead when it comes to health care, particularly in malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, but also women's health which has been woefully neglected.

I believe we should demonstrate our commitment to people who are poor, disenfranchised, disempowered before we talk about putting troops anywhere. The United States has to be seen again as a peacekeeper, and we have lost that standing in these last seven years.

Therefore, I want us to have a partnership, government to government, government with the private sector, government with our NGOS and our faith community to show the best of what America has to offer. You know, I really appreciated President Bush after the tsunami struck, asking his father and my husband to represent the United States and our concern for the people who have been devastated.

And, yes, the military was there delivering supplies. That sent a loud message and it was resonating throughout South Asia -- in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. America's favorability rose dramatically because we were seen as caring and compassionate toward those with whom we had very little contact or, in fact, some, you know, level of distrust previously.

So I think we have to concentrate first and foremost on restoring our moral authority in the world and our standing in the world. And there are lots of ways that the United States military can be helpful and can show the better face of America. After the Pakistan earthquakes, we sent in military teams to help people. So I think that is my emphasis right now.

Before we get to what we might do hypothetically, let's see what we will do realistically to rebuild America's moral authority and demonstrate our commitment to compassionate humanitarianism.

MEACHAM: Senator, this is our last question for you. To return to faith, do you believe God wants you to be president?

CLINTON: Well, I could be glib and say we'll find out, but I -- I don't presume anything about God. I believe, you know, Abraham Lincoln was right in admonishing us not to act as though we knew God was on our side. In fact, our mission should be on God's side. And I have tried to take my beliefs, my faith and put it to work my entire life. And it has been gratifying to do the little I've done to try to help other people, which is really what motivates me.

CLINTON: That's why I get up in the morning and see whether there's an individual I can help or a problem I can solve.

And I wouldn't presume to even imagine that God is going to tell me what I should do. I think that he has given me enough guidance, you know, through how I have been raised and how I have been, thankfully, given access to the Bible over so many years, commentary and the like.

So I just get up and try to do the best I can. And I think that I see through a glass darkly. I don't believe that any of us know it all and can with any confidence say that we are going to, you know, be doing God's will unless, you know, we are just out there doing our very best, hoping that we make a difference in people's lives.

And that's what I am trying to do in this campaign. That's what I would try to do as president.

And I couldn't be sitting here had it not been for the, you know, gift of grace and faith that keeps me going and, frankly, challenges me. You know, we haven't talked much about the challenge that faith gives us individually.

I really worry when people become very complacent in their faith, when they do believe they have all the answers, because I just don't think it's humanly possible for any of us to know God's mind. I think we are just searching.

We are on this journey together, and we need to approach it with a great deal of humility. And that's what I'm trying to do in this campaign, and we'll see what turns out. But whatever happens, I will get up the next day and try to continue on my journey to do what I can to try to fulfill what I believe to be God's expectations of us.

BROWN: Senator Clinton, it was a very different kind of evening. You've been a good sport. Thank you.

CLINTON: Thank you.