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June 2007 Archives

WASHINGTON—NPR’s Michel Martin just asked a very interesting question about support for a federal law to guarantee a right of return to residents of New Orleans and other gulf regions hurt by Hurricane Katrina..based on United Nations standards dealing with internally displaced populations.

Most of the eight sidestepped a direct answer about a policy of a right of return—a phrase usually used for refugees in other countries. Bill Richardson Mike Gravel said yes; Joe Biden said no. The others talked about federal government failures.

WASHINGTON—At the third Democratic presidential debate, eight 2008 primary rivals are talking about race at Howard University, the nation’s top historically black school.
The first question: Is race the most intractable issue? This is asked in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down Thursday putting new limits on voluntary school integration plans on the grounds of discrimination against white students.

WASHINGTON--This Democratic debate is called the All-American Presidential Forum moderated by Tavis Smiley. This event is at Howard University, a traditional black institution and co-sponsored by PBS.

Radio host Tom Joyner just introduced Smiley. Joyner plugged Smiley's book, Covenant with Black America. Right now Smiley is pitching his book. So far its nine minutes into the so-called debate and none of the eight Democrats have said a word. Haven't even seen them on the stage.

Now Smiley just introduced Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. It's eleven minutes in and....finally the candidates are coming on stage, introduced by Patrick. Now they are posing for pictures. It's 12 minutes eaten up.....and they are still not behind the podiums.

WASHINGTON--The 2008 fund-raising showdown between White House rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is driving fund-raising to record levels of giving. With the second quarter closing on Saturday, Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said in a memo the campaign expects to take-in at least $27 million, with Obama collecting "significantly" more in April, May and June.


"We expect to bring in about what we did in the First Quarter, or slightly more, which should put us in the range of $27 million. To put that figure in some perspective, it is more than any Democrat has ever raised in the second quarter of the “off” year. While that figure is record setting, we do expect Senator Obama to significantly outraise us this quarter. Bottom line is that both campaigns will raise a great deal of money and that we will have all the resources we need to compete and win," Wolfson said.

In Washington on Thursday at a fund-raiser aimed at women, Michelle Obama said the crowds coming to see Obama show "This is not curiosity, this is a movement."

The Obama campaign estimated that events in the Washington area on Wednesday and Thursday hauled in $1 million for Obama. Michelle Obama quipped that one of her daughters calls the Secret Service personnel assigned to Obama "Secret people."

The Obama campaign is on track to report about $30 million in second quarter donations, according to unofficial estimates from fund-raising observers. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is lowering expectations, gauging second quarter collections at $9 million. A few weeks ago the Obama campaign was floating a $20 million number.

Meanwhile, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is engaging in a bit of media baiting in mounting a straw man argument in a direct e-mail appeal to supporters, designed to spur donors to give in time to run up second quarter numbers.

“Media pundits and Washington insiders are already speculating about our end of quarter fundraising totals," Plouffe wrote. "They claim the money we raise by this Saturday, June 30th, will determine the success or failure of our campaign," Plouffe wrote.


For years, the Senate has resisted electronic disclosure of campaign finance reports. The House has electronic filing requirements as do presidential candidates, political parties and political action committees. The Senate sticks out as the body out of step with the rest of federal government, if not the modern world.

It seems obvious, in this age of the Internet, that the era of just filing paper copies of reports is over. There are big filing cabinets over at the Federal Election Commission headquarters in Washington stuffed with hard copies of the reports. But news flash to the Senate -- the bricks-and-mortar way of doing business has long ago been supplemented with the 24-hour virtual universe.


WASHINGTON -- A day after a new television ad debuted for White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) aimed at Iowa voters, the union official in it was removed from the spot at his request.

Chicago-based Tom Balanoff, the president of SEIU Local 1, was in the original version of an ad about Obama's years in Chicago as a community organizer.

CHICAGO-- Here are three stories about a Chicago Democratic fund-raiser, Myron Cherry, his ties to the controversial Tony Rezko, under indictment for public corruption and his connections to White House hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

Clinton and Obama hold dueliing fund-raisers in Chicago today.

click below for the package...

CHICAGO--Here's the latest political advance calendar for White House hopeful Sen. Brack Obama (D-Ill.) and wife Michelle.

Readers guide: Please note the campaign only lists a selection of political events it deems in its interests to reveal; the weeks ahead schedule does not include any events related to Obama's senatorial duties.

How to decode: When a listing notes a city the candidate or his wife will be in with the phrase "no public events," that is the clue that the Obama's are in a town for a fund-raiser that they are not eager to generate press on.

Some fund-raisers are sometimes listed; some are not. For example, on Monday Obama has a fund-raiser in Chicago; on Thursday Michelle Obama is the star of a fund-raiser for her husband in Washington. That's a clue that she will probably be there all day since Obama and his Democratic rivals are at a presidential forum at Howard University in Washington that evening.


Look for the union label. It’s Democratic.

Senate and House Democratic leaders — and the Democratic presidential candidates — are standing in solidarity with organized labor.

As the Senate debates the top agenda item of labor, the Employee Free Choice Act, designed to make it easier to organize in the workplace, it does so with the backing of virtually every top Democrat.

WASHINGTON -- A Democratic primary is shaping up in the north suburban 10th congressional district, where Dan Seals, the 2006 nominee, will have to defeat newcomer Jay Footlik, who served in the Clinton White House, for the nomination to run against Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.).

The Code Pink anti-war demonstrators, who stalk Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Capitol and get close enough to shout anti-war slogans in her face, showed up to protest her speech at the Take Back America conference Wednesday.

A handful -- seemed less than a dozen right in front, where Clinton could see them -- held up their signs, "Lead Us Out of Iraq Now!" and booed, but not as much as last year. And this time, there were Clinton supporters in the crowd who vocalized to balance them out.

Most central; Clinton in 2007 is not the Clinton of 2006 or the years before. Clinton addressed this strongly anti-war group protesting the war in Iraq herself.


WASHINGTON -- In a final push to run up second-quarter fund-raising numbers, White House hopeful Barack Obama just scheduled another fund-raiser in Chicago on Monday -- at almost the same time that chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton will headline an event in her hometown.

WASHINGTON -- At two forums on Tuesday -- sponsored by AFSCME and the progressive Campaign for America's Future -- Democratic White House rivals drew distinctions between their anti-Iraq war positions.

WASHINGTON--Here it is--the latest list of hosts for White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's fund-raiser in Chicago on Monday night at the Palmer House Hilton.

Last Tuesday I asked Clinton what it would mean to her campaign if chief rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) outraises her in the second quarter; he is on track to do just that.

"Nothing at all," she said.

click below for the invitation with the updated names of hosts.

WASHINGTON--The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, deftly using humor and Bill Clinton, produced a teriffic video with a Soprano ending to mark the unveiling of the official campaign song--"You and I" by Celine Dion.

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to limit damage within the Indian-American Democratic community, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Monday it was a "screw-up" and "stupid" and a "mistake" for his campaign to issue a memo slamming ties rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her husband, Bill, have to India and Indian-Americans.

"In sum, our campaign made a mistake," Obama said in a statement released through a group of Indian-American supporters called South Asians for Obama '08.


"Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign -- and in particular myself -- responsible for the mistake."

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to limit damage within the Indian-American Democratic community, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Monday it was a "screw-up" and "stupid" and a "mistake" for his campaign to issue a memo slamming ties rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her husband, Bill, have to India and Indian-Americans.

"In sum, our campaign made a mistake," Obama said in a statement released through a group of Indian-American supporters called South Asians for Obama '08.


"Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign -- and in particular myself -- responsible for the mistake."

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to limit damage within the Indian-American Democratic community, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Monday it was a "screw-up" and "stupid" and a "mistake" for his campaign to issue a memo slamming ties rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her husband, Bill, have to India and Indian-Americans.

"In sum, our campaign made a mistake," Obama said in a statement released through a group of Indian-American supporters called South Asians for Obama '08.


"Although I was not aware of the contents of the memo prior to its distribution, I consider the entire campaign -- and in particular myself -- responsible for the mistake."

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Growing up, Patti Solis Doyle, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, could hear the rumble of the L train running in the alley behind her home at 1726 W. 21st.


Today, Doyle is the manager of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, lives in an affluent Washington neighborhood and sends her two children to one of the best private schools in the city.

In a rare look inside the White House campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the Sun-Times has learned she — or former President Clinton — has booked at least 26 fund-raising events between May 31 and June 30, the end of the second fund-raising quarter.

Despite the fund-raiser sprint, there is the prospect chief rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will beat Clinton in second quarter fund-raising. I asked Clinton what this would mean to her campaign and Clinton replied: “It would mean nothing to my campaign. Nothing at all.

WASHINGTON--In the wake of a Senate stalemate over the immigration bill--ending any prospects of passage for the time being--Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) the House lead on immigration, pleads with the Senate on Friday to not give up.

Gutierrez: "Senators must get back to the table, and they must get this done."


WASHINGTON—- Transcript of sparring between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) over whether an amendment proposed by presidential contender Obama will kill a bi-partisan deal on the immigration bill. Graham is a backer of White House hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) an architect of the bill.

Excerpts…

Graham: SO WHEN YOU'RE OUT ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, MY FRIEND, TELL THEM ABOUT WHY CAN'T WE COME TOGETHER, THIS IS WHY.

Obama: THAT THAT SOMEHOW DESTROYS THE BIPARTISAN NATURE OF THIS BILL IS SIMPLY UNTRUE.

WASHINGTON—Here are the exclusive details on how the campaign of Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama was successfully pressured to move the location of a Friday fund-raiser in Chicago after organized labor—specifically show business locals--complained the event was in a non-union venue.

Labor and show business interests are key components of the Democratic primary base. Obama is seeking endorsements and has appeared at events for the AFL-CIO and SEIU. And Obama has been scooping up Hollywood and Broadway cash. Not good to get labor and show business mad.

Obama has four events Friday in Chicago; two dinners in private homes; a big ticket event at Carnivale and a lower-dollar GEN BO (Generation Barack Obama) party at Union Station. The Carnivale reception—hosted by a who’s who of Chicago’s Democratic elite (names below) was first booked at the Park West at 322 Armitage. Turns out that Park West is a non-union room.

Chicago Federal of Labor President Dennis Gannon told the Sun-Times that a variety of unions “expressed concerns” to the Obama campaign over holding the fund-raiser at the Park West. Gannon said a “host of folks” complained from Actors Equity and unions representing stagehands, musicians and ticket takers.

Said Gannon, “We got a call here. We made our calls. Other folks made calls to the campaign. That’s how it went down.’’

click below for the who's who....


WASHINGTON—The once influential Iowa GOP Straw poll is dead. Republican front-runners Rudy Giuliani and John McCain pulled out. The Illinois Republican party is poised to fill the void and offer a "more objective standard" to test support.

WASHINGTON—The Democratic presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are hustling today trying to manage the “expectation primary” over second quarter fund-raising for the period ending on June 30.

WASHINGTON--President Bush, in Germany today said he will wield the veto pen again--to veto the latest stem cell bill.


click below for Bush statement..


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- ''Silent amnesty.''

GOP White House hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a champion of the comprehensive immigration bill faltering on the Senate floor this week, did not invent the phrase. But he has been using it lately. If the notion of "silent amnesty" gains traction, it may throw a lifeline to the comprehensive immigration bill, which is, once again, headed nowhere.

WASHINGTON--The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday votes on a very controversial judicial nominee, Leslie Southwick, a former Mississippi state court appeals judge. According to the Alliance for Justice, Southwick is " hostile to worker, consumer and civil rights.''

President Bush has had to drop his two previous selections for this slot because of Senate opposition.

Interesting, the Democrats on the committee (including White House contender Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have been slow to show their hand. There are a coalition of groups, including civil rights organizations and organized labor objecting to the Southwick nomination. Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is not on the committee but is on record as opposing Southwick if the nomination gets to the Senate floor.

click below for memos from the Alliance for Justice....

MANCHESTER (GOFFSTON), N.H.-- The GOP White House hopefuls debating Tuesday night will provide cover for President Bush if he decides to pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sentenced earlier today to 30 months in prison in the CIA leak case. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine. He is appealing the sentence. All the major Republican presidential contenders were open to a pardon.


thanks, CNN.

MANCHESTER (GOFFSTON), N.H.--Click below for transcript of first (30) (UPDATE NOW 60)( NOW 90) ENTIRE two-hour GOP debate. This is the third time the 10 Republican White House hopefuls have met. I'll post the complete transcript later. Transcript from CNN, a sponsor of the debate with WMUR and the Union Leader.

By the way.... It's raining outside and the storm or some technical difficulty is causing the audio to cut in and out.

Speaking at a ministers conference at Hampton University, a historically black school in Virginia, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday used the metaphor of bullets --that wound but do not kill, but nonetheless leave scars--to talk about despair in the African-American community. He talks about a baby born with a bullet in its arm during at the time of the LA riots. In the speech, Obama talks about how riots don't happen over-night and how a "quiet riot" had been building in Los Angeles and other cities across the nation for years.


click for the transcript...

MANCHESTER, N.H.---Immigration is expected to be an issue at the GOP presidential debate Tuesday night. It comes as the Senate this week is wrestling with a series of amendments to a major immigration bill soon to come to a vote.

Last year, critics on the left and the right were not so unhappy that the GOP-controlled Congress ended up doing nothing, since the legislation in play had elements neither side could live with. The climate is different this time around. Democrats now run Congress and are more or less united on the need to legalize the status of the millions of illegal immigrants who live in the U.S.

The issue is tearing the GOP apart. White House hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a key architect of the immigration bill, jabbed rival former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for not supporting the legislation.

McCain coined a new term, “silent amnesty” in taking aim at critics. It’s an apt phrase. Because doing nothing lets the illegal immigrants stay in the country without doing anything to resolve their status. Framing the matter as silent amnesty is a very clever--even brilliant way--to defuse the argument used against McCain and others that the immigration bill grants amnesty. Words always matter. Amnesty is a red-meat hot button word and McCain needs to neutralize the vocabulary.

McCain, in a speech Monday said “Pandering for votes on this issue, while offering no solution to the problem, amounts to doing nothing. And doing nothing is silent amnesty.”

The immigration bill being worked on in the Senate has thousands of details—each one could change the life of an individual. And by the way....giving illegal immigrants here a break...is a form of amnesty. But a process to legalize illegal status--full of hoops to get through--is a long way from the blanket amnesty that anti-immigration advocates talk about.



Click below for a memo from the Senate Democratic leadership on pending amendments to the immigration bill.

It's a long sentence for the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney on obstruction of justice charges.

Thirty months in prison and a $250,000 fine in the CIA leak case. Should President Bush pardon Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

for statement from Vice President Cheney, click below.....

MANCHESTER, N.H.—It’s rare—maybe even the first time—that Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been asked directly about the infidelity of her husband. She was Monday night at a forum on faith sponsored by the Sojourners/Call to Renewal, an influential member of the growing religious left—still not as strong as the religious right but a potential factor in the 2008 contests.

Only the top three Democrats were invited to the forum—Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)—all from Protestant denominations.

I often tell journalism students if you want a direct answer, ask a direct question. It’s clear Clinton is talking about the impact Bill Clintons' affairs have had on her because CNN’s Soledad O’Brien made the reference in her question.

O'BRIEN: But I'm going to ask you a delicate question. Infidelity in your marriage was very public. And I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I would like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

CLINTON: Well, I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith. And, you know, I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves……

For the full transcript, click below….

MANCHESTER, N.H.---Safe? Safer? Or not safe in this 9-11 world. A sharp disagreement among the presidential front-runners emerged the day after the second Democratic debate.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Some post-debate musings …..
*When the conversation in a debate turns into a long cordial exchange on what Bill Clinton will do if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) were president, it only helps her. (click below for segment).

MANCHESTER, N.H.--From CNN, a complete transcript of the second Democratic debate. Republican White House hopefuls debate for the third time on Tuesday here.

What can the U.S. do to stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson suggested stepping up pressure on China—one of Sudan’s best oil customers—through a threat to boycott the 2008 summer Olympics in Bejing.

Sudanese economic sanctions, which President Bush stepped up a few days ago haven’t forced the Sudan government to stop the violence.

Plowing fresh ground in a debate where a lot of the questions have been in the news—such as the failure of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to read a National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize the Iraq war—the idea to boycott the Chinese Olympics is interesting. It comes as Chicago and the U.S. Olympics Committee is campaigning to land the 2016 summer games in the city. Presumably the USOC does not need a U.S led Chinese Olympic threat headache as it looks for international backing for Chicago. Still, the killings continue and an Olympic boycott threat may shame China into using its leverage over Sudan to stop the murders.

OUTSIDE MANCHESTER, N.H.---There is a rule of thumb in post-debate spin-rooms, where spokesmen for candidates walk around as standard bearers with signs show their names. Front-runners never show up.Too demeaning. Too risky. Too much time.
After the debate, Sen. Barack Obama went to a watch party at a saloon--Murphy's bar--in Manchester.

Who showed?


OUTSIDE MANCHESTER, N.H.— At the debate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)said he sees through the move by some GOP lawmakers to make English the official language. To Obama, it’s just a way to create a wedge issue. He did well making his point.


OUTSIDE MANCHESTER, N.H.—Tonight, at the second Democratic debate, John Edwards is pointing fingers and naming names.

It’s sometimes risky going after a rival during a debate. But it’s the only way to make distinctions. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) took on the two frontrunners at once in one of the more provocative exchanges over the recent Congressional vote to provide more funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During this back-and-forth, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) threw his first punch.

Quick context, before I get to what happened.

MANCHESTER—Gleanings from the second Democratic presidential debate:

*Obama, Clinton cut it close.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer just opened the debate and all the eight White House hopefuls are standing behind podiums. If you thought this is the kind of important political event where candidates make sure to arrive well in advance—well, you would be wrong.

The debate started at 7 p.m. and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who spent Saturday in California, flew in on his charter plane, landing somewhere between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. according to Obama New Hampshire spokesman Leslie Miller.

Sen. Hillary Rodham (D-N.Y.) touched down in Manchester near 5 p.m., said spokesman Howard Wolfson.

I spotted Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) eating lunch—leisurely-- with his family at the Radisson Hotel in the afternoon. I saw former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) leave the Radisson for the debate before 4 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- After a few years' hiatus, "spin rooms" are open for business again.

WASHINGTON--The day before the second Democratic debate in New Hampshire, the Republican National Committee research department hit the Dem front runners on the Iraq war funding bill

WASHINGTON—White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) attends four fund-raisers in northern California on Saturday while his chief Democratic rivals are all in Iowa at a conclave with Dem leaders.

Obama’s campaign, in making choices where to send the candidate, is showing in scheduling decisions he does not feel strategically bound to stay with the pack.

Will he suffer politically in the crucial kickoff caucus state? Here’s the opening of a story about Obama’s absence in the Saturday Des Moines Register:

“Barack Obama is expected to be the only leading Democratic candidate for president not under an eastern Iowa roof with five of his rivals today. Five other candidates plan to appeal to 1,000 of the leadoff caucus state's most influential Democrats while the Illinois senator is 2,000 miles away.’’

All the Democrats will show up Sunday in the first-in-the-nation primary state, New Hampshire, for their second debate, in Manchester sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the Union Leader.



Click below for details on where Obama is fund-raising today.

WASHINGTON -- Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is on a fund-raising binge. He's under self-imposed pressure to show he can deliver because he beat his rivals in collecting money for the primary in the first quarter of the year and wants to show he can keep up the pace.

In a rare look at the inner workings of a campaign, the Sun-Times has learned that Obama's fund-raising team has booked him in at least 23 events across the country between May 22 and June 29 -- the end of the second quarter.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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