Recently in Dick Durbin Category

WASHINGTON-- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) longtime consumer advocate--safe toys, safe food, airplane smoking bans--takes on a new cause, how poorly prepared the federal government is to help people make the mandated switch to digital television sets next year.

After Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) held an event about credit cards at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Wednesday, he made a surprise visit to the 8th grade graduation ceremonies at the Young Women's
Leadership Charter School of Chicago. Click for the pool report from the Chicago Tribune's John McCormick.

WASHINGTON -- There's no short list. At this very early stage, only a very long list of potential running mates for Sen. Barack Obama, the likely Democratic nominee.

The closely held project for picking a vice president for Obama will be a separate "silo," an organization outside the Obama campaign headquarters on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

As I reported in the May 8 Sun-Times, the Obama team has been exploring for weeks the process to be used for selecting a running mate. Meanwhile, the Sun-Times has learned that Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett is already teed up to be highly involved in transition planning -- to be ready if Obama is sworn in as president next January.

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.--Some 2,800 of the party faithful are at the convention center here for the Jefferson Jackson dinner, headlined by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who are doing their second JJ dinner of the weekend. On Friday, they were in Raleigh for the North Carolina JJ event.

This is the Speedway City. Clinton is just stating to speak. “With the Indy 500 right around the corner, let me ask: Indiana Democrats, are you ready to start your engines?”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on the Jay Leno show Thursday evening

"That Chelsea Clinton sure is smart...!:

WASHINGTON--Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) chaired a Wednesday hearing on sexual violence and using rape as a weapon of war.

PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Barack Obama delivered the speech Tuesday that may be the most enduring of his long presidential campaign.

He deplored the nation's "racial stalemate." He declined to "disown" the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose inflammatory rhetoric triggered a crisis that may derail Obama's White House bid, as he again denounced his pastor's words. He dared people to reject divisive rhetoric, get over blame games, declare race wars over and say "not this time."

excerpt from Sen. Barack Obama speech on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War and national North Carolina, with a May primary.

Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a “Commander in Chief test” – not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington. She made a similar argument when she said her vote for war was based on her experience at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country – a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military.

The Obama campaign, clearing its decks in advance of turning up the ethics and transparency heat on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) released a list of federal donors who were solicited to give by Tony Rezko, on trial in a Chicago courtroom on federal corruption charges. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday was asked if he kept a bundler list for his 2004 Senate campaign. Bundlers are people who use their personal networks to raise money for a candidate. Most major campaigns do keep track of bundlers, in order to stroke and cultivate their most active fund-raisers.

Q: And for the Obama '04 campaign, did you keep a bundler list?

A: No

Q: Is that unusual?

A: Keep in mind that Tony raised money for me primarily in the primary. That was really when he was most active. And we started with eight people. It was a real stretch just to raise the first $250,000.

Tony Rezko wasn't involved primarily in bundling. We've kept track of who our bundlers are, and we disclose them. That's been a routine practice since I've been in the U.S. Senate.

This from Obama presidential campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt..

Below is a list of contributions to Barack Obama's federal campaigns that we determined could by reasonably credited to Mr. Rezko's political support.

This list is provided to respond to requests for a detailed accounting and it is not in any way meant to suggest questions or concerns about the specific individuals identified. Their contributions are included because they could be credited to Mr. Rezko's efforts on behalf of the campaign. The campaign has concluded in these circumstances that it should not retain these funds, and it has donated them to charity.

WASHINGTON--ABC News threw a spotlight on Sen. Barack Obama's controversial minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright--reviewing a selection of Wright's sermons, highlighted his anti-U.S. rhetoric. In an increasingly tense race--Wright's words may create problems for Obama. This follows uproars over statements from Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power and Clinton fund-raiser Geraldine Ferraro; in this heated atmosphere, both were cut recently from their respective campaigns. Obama's "Audacity of Hope" title of his second book comes from a Wright sermon.

In the excerpt of a sermon below, Wright rallies against "rich white people" and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

WASHINGTON--After refusing since June to make public earmark requests from 2005 and 2006, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is releasing Thursday all the earmark requests he has made since he entered the Senate in 2005.

This disclosure was made just before the campaign starts a conference call with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to discuss congressional earmarks. This interest in earmarks comes as Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) --knowing one of them will face anti-earmark Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the fall--have signed on to a bill calling for a one-year earmark moratorium. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is against an earmark moratorium.

Here's one highlight: Obama sought money for the University of Chicago Hospitals. Wife Michelle works for the University of Chicago Hospitals, appointed in spring 2005 as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals. She is now on leave from the job to campaign for her husband. Top campaign adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett is the Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board and also Chair of the Executive Committee of that board. She has also been named Vice-Chair of the University's Board of Trustees. Obama taught at the U. of Chicago law school and the Obama's two daughters attend school there.

from the Obama campaign

Obama Requested $1 Million For Construction Of A New Hospital Pavilion At The University Of Chicago. In 2006, Obama requested that the University of Chicago receive $1 million to support its Construction of New Hospital Pavilion. For more than 75 years, the University of Chicago Hospitals (UCH) has provided state of the art medical care on the South Side of Chicago. UCH is one of the largest Medicaid providers in Illinois, and it provided more than $90 million in uncompensated care for Medicare and Medicaid patients this past year. To continue providing the best care for patients from all walks of life, UCH is proceeding with the construction of a new 600,000 square foot facility that will ensure their ability to provide the best care for patients well into the future. Funding will go towards assisting the construction and equipping a new hospital pavilion that will increase the Hospitals' clinical capacity by over one-third. [Obama Request Letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, 4/7/06]

obamafairlesspamarch112008 001 Barack Obama taking a tour Tuesday of the Gamesa Wind Corporation factory in Fariless Hills, Pa. The factory makes component parts to make wind energy turbines. The large object in the background is a nacelle, which goes on top of a wind tubine. (Photos by Lynn Sweet)
obamafairlesspamarch112008 002
FAIRLESS HILLS, PA.—The Obama team on Monday called for the Clinton campaign to disavow remarks made by former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro for saying Obama would not be a contender for president if he were female of white.

Obama made his first comments about Ferraro in an interview with Josh Drobnyk of The Morning Call, based in Allentown.

"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party. They are divisive. I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd. And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign they shouldn't have a place in Senator Clinton's either," Obama said. END UPDATE

WASHINGTON--My colleague Chris Fusco has the story LINK,rezkocash012908.article about how Barack Obama decided to return all Rezko related campaign cash.

WASHINGTON--Barack Obama, asked Tuesday about whether he snubbed Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State of the Union said no, he did not.

" I was surprised by the reports this morning. There was a photograph in the Times about me sort of turning away. I was turning away because Claire asked me a question as Senator Kennedy was reaching for me. Senator Clinton and I have had very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as I was coming in to the Senate into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night.

"There is a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

WASHINGTON--He's billed himself as the candidate of the Joshua generation. Now Friday in South Carolina, White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) calls for a revitalized civil rights movement--and more personal responsibility.

"I understand that we need more than a new campaign or candidate – we need a movement," Obama said in his prepared text.

WASHINGTON -- Five Democratic presidential candidates will hit Chicago today to pay their respects to trial lawyers, influential beyond their numbers because they are among the party's most reliable and biggest donors.

The candidates will speak at the annual convention of the American Association for Justice, known until last December as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Trial lawyers -- who handle civil cases such as medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability -- are at the top of the enemies list of Republicans, the Bush White House and various precincts in corporate America, who have been pressing state and national lawmakers for years to approve proposals to place curbs on lawsuits and caps on awards.

WASHINGTON--Three of the four Democratic senators running for president voted against the Iraq war funding bill Thursday night--Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chris Dodd. The fourth hopeful, Joe Biden, voted yes.

Clinton and Obama had been getting pressure from the anti-war left to vote no.

The two top Senate Democrats, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin, voted yes.

Obama and Durbin rarely are divided on major votes.

for the roll call, click below...

WASHINGTON--Take a tour of the Obama national headquarters in Chicago. Meet some of the staff. Check out the latest political photo galleries just posted on the Sweet blog at

The photo galleries are on the right. Click down to find the Obana HQ tour. And check out the rest.....

WASHINGTON--The Senate wants answers about the federal probe into tainted pet food.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Whip, has long been working on food purity and food safety issues. And he is a member of the Senate Ag Appropriations subcommittee.

Durbin announced on Monday that a hearing on the pet food recall will take placeThursday afternoon, in Chicago. Witnesses will include Food and Drug Administration officials and outside specialists.

SELMA, Ala. -- They worked off the same script Sunday. The Clintons -- former President Bill and White House hopeful Hillary -- claimed the legacy of the voting rights battles fought here 42 years ago in a bid for crucial African- American support.

White House hopeful Barack Obama is using this week in Washington to lock in the support of House members. In 30 minutes, Obama meets with a group of House Democrats at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Obama's "whips" --deputies--tasked with lining up House backers--will be at the meet and greet. Members of the Illinois delegation are the corp of his whip team. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has taken a lead organizing House recruits. The House is ripe for picking up supporters. The Senate has too many members running--Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden--and recent former candidates--John Kerry and Evan Bayh--to expect most Dems to choose sides.

Meet the Obama whips:

BEVERLY HILLS-- Both Illinois senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, are fundraising in California this week: Durbin for his 2008 re-election campaign and Obama for his White House bid. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson is in Los Angeles for meetings with corporate executives and this morning was slated to speak to students at a Compton high school.

Last night, by coincidence, I intersected with these three separate worlds at the Beverly Hilton. I booked a room here because this is where Obama was headlining a fundraiser Tuesday night hosted by Hollywood moguls David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg.

Sen. Dick Durbin is kicking off a fund-raising blitz for his 2008 re-election campaign on Sunday at a brunch hosted by Democrats Susan and Lew Manilow.

Susan Manilow, a longtime Democratic activist and fund-raiser, is the new chair of Durbin's finance committee, and the Sunday huddle will be the first meeting of his 2008 finance committee.

It's becoming a tradition of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) the Senate majority leader--hosting wounded Iraq war vets at the State of the Union. It's also a sign of how long the war has been waged. Three years ago Durbin's guest was Tammy Duckworth, who went on to run for a House seat in the Chicago suburbs and who now is Gov. Blagojevich's veterans affairs chief.

Durbin will also host Mayor Daley and his wife, Maggie. The Daleys have a son in the service.

The two Illinois soldiers are Staff Sergeant Wage Cobar of Schaumburg, and Staff Sergeant Eric Sundell of Patoka.

Durbin on the ethics bill:

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The GOP filibuster threat vanished during the day. An ethics bill passed. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate Majority leader, called it the "most sweeping ethics and lobbing reform legislation in the history of the country."

Negotiations were going on Wednesday and Thursday. A "poison pill" GOP Senate leader wanted in the ethics bill disappeared when GOP leaders realized that they would end up being held responsible for killing the ethics package.

Here are the bets from the big Bears-Saints game on Sunday.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama bet some sweet home Chicago food--deep dish pizza, for example.
Louisiana Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter bet regional food.

for details, click below...

"I am really disappointed that we have not been able to seize this moment in history," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) at a presser on the GOP attempts to kill the ethics bill.

The Senate last night, on healthy bipartisan roll calls, voted to approve amendments to a pending overall ethics bill that would:
*ban senators from taking discount flights on corporate jets.
*ban lobbyists and special interests "from throwing lavish parties honoring Members at party conventions."
*strengthen a variety of gift bans and transparency requirements.

Nothing will happen, however because the GOP senate leaders--headed by Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) threw in what's called a poison pill, giving the president a line item veto. Republicans know Democratic leaders will give them a separate vote on line item veto provisions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just pledged to do it at a press conference.

Whatever the merits of a line item veto, tossing in a bid for a line item veto in the ethics bill puts the brakes on getting it done. The House already passed its version as part of its 100 day agenda. The more deliberative Senate will take its time.

click below for statement from Obama and reform groups..

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) just delivered a statement in the Senate Radio-TV gallery and then took some questions.

Durbin's notable quote: Iraqis "must know that every time they call 9-1-1 we are not going to send 20,000 more American soldiers.''

Congress, as a practical matter will not be able to stop President Bush from sending more than 20,000 troops to Iraq. Durbin said soldiers may be deployed immediately. "The thought that we can stop this in its track is a big mistake," Durbin said in reply to a question.

click below for Durbin rebuttal.

Lynn Sweet

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

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