2008 Race for the White House: August 2007 Archives

WASHINGTON—Two campaign funds controlled by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will donate to charity $7,000 from a contributor with an outstanding California arrest warrant, Obama spokesmen said Thursday, a day after chief White House rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) campaign announced it will give to charity $23,000 from the same man.

click below to continue longer blog version of print column in today's paper.....

WASHINGTON---White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is off the campaign trail until Labor Day and former President Bill Clinton hits Chicago on Sept. 10 to fund-raise for his wife.

After Labor Day, Obama will start another fund-raising sprint, including a Sept. 4 high end reception (give or raise $1,000) at the Chicago home of his earliest patrons, Bettlu and Paul Saltzman designed to attract a who's who of Obama's elite Chicago backers.

The honorary chair is Mayor Daley with hosts the Saltzmans, Obama national finance chair Penny Pritzker, and Illinois finance co-chairs Jim Crown and John Rogers. On Sept. 5 there is another high ticket (host, $2,300) reception hosted by Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois State Treasurer at Costa's a restaurant in Chicago's Greek Town.

Giannoulias, an early backer of Obama when he ran for the Senate in 2004, probably would not be treasurer today without the critical help of Obama, who made an ad to boost Giannoulias at a critical point in his contested Democratic primary where he was running against the hand-picked candidate backed by the Illinois Democratic Party chairman and House Speaker, Rep. Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).

At the end of the week, Obama hits California for a series of high profile fund-raisers, including the Sept. 8 Oprah Winfrey reception at her Santa Barbara home.

Over at the Clinton operation, a younger generation of supporters are among the hosts at a Sept. 10 bash ($1,000 for VIP reception and picture) with former President Clinton at SushiSamba at 504 N. Wells. Clinton finance chair Terry McAuliffe was in Chicago last week laying the groundwork for taking more cash out of the city for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Among the hosts are J.B. Pritzker (Penny's brother);Yusef Jackson, son of the the Rev. Jesse Jackson (the Jackson family is split over Obama and Clinton); Haley Ebeling, the daughter of Clinton’s girlhood pal Betsy and Maya Solis, the daughter of Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and niece of Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s campaign manager.

click below to see the invitations.

REHOBOTH BEACH, DEL.---The Obama presidential campaign permitted a pool reporter at a fund-raiser in Nebraska on Wednesday hosted by billionaire Warren Buffett. The complete pool report is at the end.

Some background: Obama started developing a relationship with Buffett and his daughter Susie back in 2004. At the time--just after he was elected to the U.S. Senate--Obama, cultivating a man of the people image, was not anxious to highlight his budding association with Buffett--or the fact that he chartered a plane to meet him. Here's a column I wrote on Dec. 6, 2004 about Obama--who this week is taking on transparency as a new cause--and his trip to lunch with Buffet and his daughter. Also back then--Mitt Romney and Obama--now both 2008 hopefuls--trade zingers at the 2004 Gridiron dinner.

Chicago Sun-Times
December 6, 2004 Monday
Obama takes secretive flight to visit Buffett
A week ago today, Sen.-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.) chartered an airplane and flew to Omaha, Neb., to lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett and his daughter Susan, who donated $1,000 to Obama last August.

Obama would rather you not know about his meal with Buffett and his daughter. It is none of your business to know that Obama went to some effort to meet with Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who is one of the most influential business executives in the country. Or that the meeting was arranged at the suggestion of a well-connected donor.

I can't understand why someone who is one of the most popular political figures in the country, who is the author of a best-selling book and who even has his autograph on sale on eBay, does not want to operate in the sunlight.

Obama continues, as I've noted in past columns, to not see much point in transparency about his activities; this was true during the campaign and remains so in the transition period before he is sworn into the Senate next month. I think Obama should be open and not secretive when he travels on government or political business.

to continue column, click below...

WASHINGTON — The Obama campaign has produced a second ad targeted to a minority audience stressing his Christianity, on Tuesday releasing a Spanish language radio spot to run in Nevada, one of the early presidential vote states. Why the emphasis on Obama’s Christianity? Is there a worry that in some precincts there is confusion about his faith because of the Islamic heritage of his father and stepfather?

WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is on GQ magazine’s cover with author Ryan Lizza’s long article titled “Above the Fray” inside. This more than 7,000-word narrative buries how Obama’s chief spokesman had a list posted in his office of stories the campaign “was pushing or anticipating” about rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

Writes Lizza, “Obama knows Hillary is not going to collapse of her own accord. To close the gap, you have to yank her down a little.”

I wrote in my blog last June that Obama’s campaign, staffed with veteran Washington operatives, seeks to portray Obama as above the fray and as an outsider candidate of change. I wrote this after the Obama campaign got caught pushing a negative research memo aimed at the Clintons. It was headlined, “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)’s personal financial and political ties to India.”

WASHINGTON---White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino called the new--and first--paid ad produced for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign "outrageous" on Tuesday.

In the spot, titled "Invisible" and running only in Iowa, Clinton’s sixty-second ad takes aim at President Bush (rather than any of her Democratic primary rivals) asserting that families needing health and child care and poorly treated Iraq and Afghanistan vets are invisible to the president.

Asked to react to the ad, Perino said, "But as to the merits of it, I think it's outrageous."

(for Clinton ad script, click down to Monday post)

for Perino comment, click below..

WASHINGTON---White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) hits Iowa television with ads for the first time, as Hawkeye state polls show either a tie between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Clinton, or with Edwards in the lead.

Asked the size of the buy, Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said “major.” Clinton says in the spot, “Americans from all walks of life across our country may be invisible to this President, but they’re not invisible to me and they won’t be invisible to the next President of the United States.”

Obama started moving poll numbers after running paid ads; Clinton has been holding her own with free media and rolls out her inaugural paid spot---there have been lots of videos on her website—as Dems cluster in Iowa in the coming days.

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.---The Los Angeles area is so fertile for White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) that she is making her second trip to southern California in a week. On Saturday night, she's in Pasadena and on Sunday during the day she scoops up campaign cash in Hidden Hills at a brunch at the home of Cliff Glibert Lurie and his wife Leslie.

Click below for names of brunch hosts and event chairs...

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- In a presidential primary forum designed to deal with gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual issues, White House hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, gay marriage foes, argued Thursday that strong civil union laws are as good as a wedding.

Rival former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), also opposed to gay marriage, disagreed that a civil union is equal to marriage because without a ceremony, it is a "stop short of real equality." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) did not try to equate civil unions with gay marriage, saying only " I prefer to think of it as being very positive about civil unions.

HOLLYWOOD---New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is speaking now. This partial transcript inludes first hour plus of the two-hour forum co-sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and LOGO, a gay-oriented cable channel.

click below for transcript...

HOLLYWOOD----The gay Democratic presidential forum just started. It’s in a production studio near the intersection of Sunset and Vine. If you wondered as I did if the first-ever discussion of issues of interest to the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community would elicit a response from the conservative and/or “traditional values” crowd, guess no more.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council (allied mostly with GOP candidates) chided the Democratic field for agreeing to speak to the “homosexual lobby” and challenged them to attend an event to defend their values to social conservatives within their own ranks.

“Although the Democratic candidates are willing to articulating their stands on homosexual issues such as gay marriage, hate crimes, and the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, they haven't expressed the same willingness to address the concerns of social conservatives within their own party,” Perkins wrote.

For the Perkins letter titled “Homosexual activist groups to host presidential debate,” click below…

SANTA MONICA--In anticipation of the topic of gay marriage coming up at tonight's gay forum the folks at FactCheck.org put together a briefing on the positions of the Democratic rivals.

The forum, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and LOGO Television, a gay-oriented cable channel, will have a live audience. Included in the audience will be Susan Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida, who made headlines last February 2007 when Stanton, then a he, told the city commissioners about pending sex reassignment. Stanton got fired as a result.

Click below for briefing materials...

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.—I flew in from Chicago last night to cover the first Democratic presidential primary event designed to deal with gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual issues. The two-hour discussion is this evening, with the contenders coming together for the third time in a week, this time in a studio in Hollywood.

Democratic frontrunners Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are throwing fund-raisers in L.A. in order to tap into—yet again-- the never-ending money flow available from Democratic wallets here.

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.--President Bush, at his press conference on Thursday was asked about White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama's doctrine, made in a recent foreign policy speech that he would send U.S. forces to Pakistan if there was actionable intel about U.S. terrorist targets and if Pakistan's President Musharraf did not act.

Q Sir, on Monday, at Camp David, when you met with President Karzai from Afghanistan, you were asked if you had actionable intelligence in Pakistan of top al Qaeda leaders; would you take action unilaterally, if in fact you felt that President Musharraf simply, for one reason or another, just simply couldn't get his people there in time, would you move in? And you said, if we had actionable -- good, actionable intelligence, we would get the job done.

My question, one, is, who is "we"? Does that we include the Pakistanis, or -- because the question says, Musharraf wouldn't be able to be in -- would you do it unilaterally? And one reason this is a hot question this week is that one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama, talked about taking unilateral action. He kind of got beaten up by people in the Democratic Party, and by Mitt Romney in your party, Romney comparing him to Dr. Strangelove. I don't know if you would agree with that, or if you would feel --

for transcript, click below...

CHICAGO---One of the formative experiences for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is his community organizing work on the city's South Side. Obama's presidential campaign represents the ultimate organizing challenge for the former organizer and it is a massive, ongoing communtarian experiment and experience in organizing at the largest level.

The Obama campaign is creating events that pull people together--book clubs studying his memoir and the latest, "Got Hope? Get Hoops" basketballl tournaments in New Hampshire and a contest in Iowa to attend a BBQ with Obama.

CHICAGO--A key voter political voter consumer resource is FactCheck.org a program of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The folks at FactCheck analyzed the AFL-CIO president forum and found some "some claims wrong" and others "questionable."

Click below for the FactCheck.org report ..and check out the site.

The debate over who has the best foreign policy judgment continued Tuesday, with Barack Obama taking punches from Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Chris Dodd.

CHICAGO--As signaled for days, the AFL-CIO executive council meeting here, decided Wednesday morning to put off a Democratic primary endorsement, opening the door for its 55 union affiliates to make picks.In 2004, the labor federation held off its backing until John Kerry was the presumed nominee. All the Democratic candidates are labor friendly and back key union issues. But the decision will trigger a free-for-all push for endorsements from individual unions.

For the AFL-CIO statement, click below...

CHICAGO--The complete transcript from the AFL-CIO president forum at Soldier Field.

click below...

CHICAGO--Here's the first 30 minutes of the AFL-CIO president forum. I'll post a full transcript as soon as I get it.

Click below for transcript

CHICAGO--- In a serene but tough response, White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), after being punched a few times by rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) said simply, “I’m just taking it all in.”

Clinton—attacked more aggressively by rivals in the last weeks—said You know, I've noticed in the last few days that a lot of the other campaigns have been using my name a lot. But I'm here because I think we need to change America. And it's not to get in fights with Democrats. I want the Democrats to win. And I want a united Democratic Party..... that will stand against the Republicans.

And she recounted her experience in taking on incoming from the vast right wing conspiracy.

CHICAGO—White House hopeful Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.), who has been shortchanged in time in previous debates, got the leadoff question in this AFL-CIO debate, about the bridge collapse in Minnesota. “I’ve stood with labor,” he said.

Dodd’s answer about infrastructure included a call to cut funding for the war in Iraq—an implicit swipe at Senate colleagues Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) who voted for a supplemental Iraq war funding bill.

Throwing the first of several punchs, (much more later on this) former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) aimed at Clinton, charging “We don’t need to change one group of insiders for another group of insiders. The Clinton team expected Edwards to throw darts at her. Echoing a call from Saturday’s YearlyKos presidential forum, also in Chicago, Edwards, putting Clinton again in his sights said it was time to say no to “Washington lobbyist insider money.” (see Report 2 post below)

CHICAGO—The AFL-CIO forum is going to start in a few minutes and the matter of taking political money from federal lobbyists and political action committees may come up. Here's a quick briefing. There was a time when White House hopeful Barack Obama thought more highly of political action committees than he does now. Specifically in December, 2003, when he was running for his U.S. Senate seat from Illinois and filled out a questionnaire from the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization.

Asked if PACs should be abolished, Obama replied, “Political action committees have enabled labor unions and progressive groups to compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars that corporate interests have poured into political campaigns. The provision of federal matching funds, along with free broadcast time for candidates utilizing the public airwaves, would reduce the necessity and influence of PACs.”

CHICAGO---White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is sandwiching in two high-end fund-raisers on Tuesday, before and after the AFL-CIO presidential forum in Chicago at Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.---The Clinton campaign polllster, Mark Penn, sent out a memo on Tuesday basically concluding that White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is in good shape, based on national polls. Seventy minutes later, a memo arrived from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe arguing Obama was on a nice trajectory based on polls in the early presidential vote states. He even uses the phrase "turn the page" in his memo, a line borrowed from his boss.

Parse these memos for yourself.

I've been asserting that the national polls don't count for much at this point. The Clinton camp has been making the point that the national polls are worth paying attention to because Clinton, even she falters in the early states, gets a big running start in what amounts to an almost national primary on Feb. 5.

lI'm getting on a plane for Chicago in a few minutes, heading in to cover the AFL-CIO president forum on Wednesday.

SANTA MONICA, CALIF. -- Last Tuesday evening in Washington, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) dined with AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney and about a dozen presidents of the labor organization's affiliates at Il Mulino, an elegant Italian restaurant.

WASHINGTON---A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows a three-way tie in Iowa, the crucial leadoff presidential vote state. The poll changes the narrative that Iowa was leaning towards Edwards. Now the story is Iowa is a toss-up.

The news:
27 percent Barack Obama
26 percent John Edwards
26 percent Hillary Rodham Clinton
11 percent Bill Richardson
All others below 10 percent.

From Obama perspective, best news of poll—People like him, trust him. Bad news, low scores on leadership, experience.

Click below for details..

WASHINGTON--Nuke? Or no Nuke? White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) opened a new front on Thursday in suggesting he would be hesitant to use nuclear weapons. This comes a day after talking tough about sending U.S. assets in to Pakistan to root out terrorists even if the U.S. is not invited.

Here's the news story that may impact Obama presidential coverage for the next cycle (he hoped to get attention for his role in the Senate ethics and lobbying package passed this afternoon with 80 votes). It's an interview by Dennis Conrad of the Associated Press, who talked to Obama after the regular Thursday Illinois breakfast. The Republican National Committee did an e-mail blast with the quotes.

Click below for the operative quotes where Obama said he was against a nuke hit involving civilians--and then retreats.

This is not the first time Obama had to refine, define and retool along the way on foreign policy questions. He spent part of last week honing his thoughts on meeting with despots without precondition. For other examples check previous posts at blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2007/04/sweet_column_obama_says_he_was.html

WASHINGTON -- If he were commander-in-chief, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Wednesday, he would sponsor a U.S. strike in Pakistan to root out high-value terrorist targets and he would visit a Muslim country in his first 100 days in office to "make it clear we are not at war with Islam."

WASHINGTON -- On the stump, presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama suggests his political career was an afterthought. He tells of returning to Chicago from Harvard Law School to be part of a civil rights practice and teach law.

However, a new book reveals a reason Obama joined a politically connected law firm: to give him entree to the powerbrokers in Chicago's elite liberal political community who helped elect Mayor Harold Washington -- a job the new lawyer had his eye on.

WASHINGTON--As commander-in-chief, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would sponsor a U.S. strike in Pakistan to attack terrorists, sending a tough message to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that if he does not act an Obama administration would.

Obama made the threat in outlining his most extensive, specific program yet to combat terrorism and to restore the U.S. image in Muslim nations in a speech to be delivered Wednesday morning in Washington. In an indirect reference to chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over directly negotiating with leaders of rogue states--Clinton said last week she did not want to hand a "propaganda" opportunity to these leaders-- Obama, according to a fact sheet distributed in advance of the speech, is " not afraid that he’d lose a public relations battle against a dictator."

Obama, whose father and step-father were Muslim, and who has said his unique multi-cultural background will help the U.S. diplomatically, said he would make a speech at a major Islamic venue within the first 100 days in the White House. Obama, the subject or rumors that he attended a radical madrasas while living in Indonesia--he did not--called for the U.S. to create a $2 billion fund to provide schools and shut down a student pipeline to "radical Muslim madrasas.

He also said he would send 7,000 more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan and increase non-military aid by $3 billion, in part to use as an incentive to wean Afghan farmers from opium profits. Obama again calls for the closing of Guantanamo and security improvements, including vunerable U.S. and foreign shipping ports.

click below for fact sheet and speech...

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Lynn Sweet

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

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the 2008 Race for the White House category from August 2007.

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