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.
It's interesting to note exactly what Clinton said about Iraq that triggered the demonstrators. Twenty-two minutes into her speech, Clinton said the U.S. military effort succeeded but "it is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people." Blaming the Iraqis set the protesters off. Clinton was prepared and verbally embraced her most vocal critics. "I love coming here every year. I see the signs 'Lead us out of Iraq now.' That is what we are trying to do."
On Tuesday or Wednesday, most of the Democratic presidential candidates appeared at two forums -- the meeting of progressives at the Take Back America conference and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees forum, moderated by MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews.
Here are some of the most interesting points:
Clinton: Twice in two days Clinton has talked about the intersection between faith and science, saying there doesn't have to be an inherent conflict between the two. "I can believe in both faith and science," she said.
A devout Methodist looking for the Democratic faith-based vote, Clinton's frame is artful. Asked at the AFSCME forum if a teacher should be fired for teaching evolution -- something a few of the GOP presidential candidates support -- Clinton said, "I think that a science class should be about science. I think philosophy classes and history classes and social studies classes should be broad-ranging and looking at different points of view. . . . I consider myself a person of faith, a religious person, and I don't see any conflict between believing in the power of the Almighty to have created this extraordinary world we're part of, in ways that I can't possibly understand, and going to the museum and seeing a dinosaur."
Clinton underscored the point talking to the progressive Democrats, when she spoke a few hours before President Bush's second veto of a bill to use federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.
"When I am president, I will lift the ban on stem cell research. This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science," she said.
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.): At the AFSCME meeting, Edwards launched into what amounted to a general election argument against Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama: that they are not electable and can't get votes in certain parts of the nation. He didn't use their names, but that's who he was aiming at when he said "we need a candidate for president" who "can go anywhere in America."
Obama: At both forums, Obama was on his game. He won the straw poll sponsored by Politico.com. He told AFSCME his all-in-one solutions to almost everything: "If we increase fuel efficiency standards to 40, 45 miles a gallon, we would have to import zero oil from the Middle East. And if we import zero oil from the Middle East, that means that gas prices are going to go down at the pump and it means our environment is going to improve."
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: He's the only contender who would pull troops out of Iraq and not leave any residual force.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio): He's for creating a Works Green Administration to retrofit homes for solar and wind energy. That is, he said, "a big idea."