WASHINGTON--Pool report from Amy Chozick, The Wall Street Journal
Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at the Irish-American Presidential
Forum, a meeting during which prominent Irish-Americans in New York
invite presidential candidates to talk about their positions on Irish
Only news was the following statement made about the Olympics in Beijing
which was simultaneously emailed out by Phil Singer. "I wanted to
commend Prime Minister Gordon Brown for agreeing not to go to the
opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing. That was an important
decision by Prime Minister Brown and I am calling on Senators McCain and
Obama to join me in my request that President Bush also not attend the
The other interesting thing that came up was a proposal (not sure if
it's brand new) to establish Irish bonds. Similar to Israeli bonds,
these bonds would be bought by Irish Americans and support Ireland's
infrastructure needs. "This would be a place where the Irish American
community would be particularly important," Clinton said, adding it
would "create a steady revenue stream that would support the kind of
investments that would support" both the Republic and Northern Ireland.
About: The Irish American Presidential Forum was first organized by
Democratic assemblyman John C. Dearie in 1980. The forum has been held
every election year since then except 2004. Past attendees have included
Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gerry Brown and Bill Clinton (1992).
Clinton arrived thirty minutes late and as the crowd of about 100
crammed into a very tiny room on Madison Avenue waited for her arrival,
several suited Irishmen started singing. The first tune went something
like 'Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?' They then broke out into
"American Pie." Someone (randomly) had a guitar.
Malachy McMcCourt, a Brooklyn-born poet who was raised in Limerick and
ran for governor of New York as a representative of the Green Party,
stood up to tell jokes about his hometown. "I always find that memories
of great tragedies sustain us in times of great joy," he sad as he began
a hilarious anecdote that involved a drunk man vomiting on himself and a
lost English tourist.
Dearing introduced Clinton, first praising President Clinton. "April 5,
1992, this tall, handsome young governor came to talk to us. And for all
the songs and demonstrations that we in the Irish community had held for
years, it was his commitment that really made a catalytic difference."
Lots of talk of giving Gerry Adams a visa. "Were it not for the
Clintons, there would be no Good Friday agreement and there would be no
peace in Northern Ireland today."
Of Sen. Clinton, Dearie said: "You've heard stories of well, how much
was she really involved. Well, those of us who were involved know damn
well how much she was involved. She's always been a friend to the
Clinton arrived and greeted several members of the audience, hugging a
few. "Great to see you," she said. She gave a brief introduction, saying
she would reinstate St. Patrick's Day parties at the White House ("Those
were the best parties in the entire eight years," she said) and then
launched into answers to questions that the forum had given her in
advance. The questions included:
Q: Would you appoint a peace-keeping special envoy to Northern Ireland
Clinton: "I will...We have come so far we now need to deal with the
remaining issues on the table. That's why it's important to have a
special envoy that reports directly to me rather than having to go up
and down the chain of command," she said, jokingly adding: "Those who
wish to apply please do so."
Q: Immigration policy
Clinton: standard speech about a need for "comprehensive immigration
reform" for the roughly 50,000 illegal Irish immigrants living in the US
Q: Would she visit Ireland during her first year in office?
Clinton: "Hmm, what a hardship that would be," she joked. "I am always
looking for reasons to go back...Presidential visits are a special part
of reinforcing that bond."