Campaign Confidential

In Wake of Intelligence Report, Dems Rap Bush Over Iran

By Daniel Treiman

With a recent U.S. intelligence report concluding that Iran has likely halted its nuclear weapons program, the Democratic candidates wasted little time before attacking the Bush administration over its handling of the Iranian nuclear issue — and decrying the president’s response to the report.

The L.A. Times reports on what the candidates said on the matter during a national Public Radio debate:

Senator Hillary Clinton:

I vehemently disagree with the president that nothing’s changed and therefore nothing in American policy has to change. We do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect. I think that is an important lesson.

Senator Joseph Biden:

It was like watching a rerun of his statements on Iraq five years earlier. Iran is not a nuclear threat to the United States of America. Iran should be dealt with directly, with the rest of the world at our side. But we’ve made it more difficult now, because who is going to trust us?

John Edwards:

What I believe is that this president, who, just a few weeks ago, was talking about World War III, he, the vice president, the neocons have been on a march to possible war with Iran for a long time. We know that they’ve prepared contingency plans for a military attack.

Senator Barack Obama:

What I’ve been consistent about was that this saber-rattling was a repetition of Iraq, a war I opposed, and that we needed to oppose George Bush again. We can’t keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, knowing the ways in which they manipulate intelligence.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich:

When people say all options are on the table, as the three senators have, they actually encouraged President Bush and licensed his rhetoric. What I’m saying is that I’m the only one here who in Congress repeatedly challenge, in every chance and every legislation, repeatedly challenge this mindset that said all options are on the table and that Iran had nuclear weapons programs.

According to Newsday, Edwards and Senator Chris Dodd both ripped Hillary for backing a resolution in Congress calling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

“This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we’re in a global war on terror,” Edwards said.

Dodd said that Clinton’s vote “specifically eliminated any option except the military one.”

Clinton, however, said that the resolution caused Iran to reduce its actions in Iraq. “”I think we’ve actually seen the positive effects of having labeled them a terrorist organization,” she said.

Dodd also said that he’s buying his kids Christmas toys from Iowa.


Barbra Streisand Joins Team Hillary

By Jennifer Siegel

It’s official: Babs is for Hill. Continuing its push to amass a mountain of bold-faced endorsements, the Clinton campaign announced this morning that the legendary singer loves the sound of “Madame President.”

Here’s the press release:

Barbra Streisand Endorses Hillary Clinton

Legendary filmmaker, artist, and Democratic activist, Barbra Streisand, today endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Streisand cited Clinton’s ability to bring about change and the historic nature of her campaign as reasons why she is supporting Hillary’s candidacy.

“Madame President of the United States…it’s an extraordinary thought. We truly are in a momentous time, where a woman’s potential has no limitations,” said Streisand. “Hillary Clinton has already proven to a generation of women that there are no limits for success. She is driven by her passion for public service and her belief in the enormous potential of our country. Smart, capable and strong in her convictions, Hillary has transcended the dictates of what is thought to be possible for our time.

“Hillary is a powerful voice for change as we find our country at an important crossroads. Under her leadership, our country will regain its respect within the global community. She will prioritize issues of global climate change, universal health care and rebuilding a strong economy. After 8 long years, the public will once again have faith in their government.

“Another former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, ‘In government, in business, and in the professions there may be a day when women will be looked upon as persons. We are, however, far from that day as yet.’ More than 50 years later ‘that day’ is now upon us and Hillary Clinton is ready to shatter through that glass ceiling for all women.”

Streisand has been working on behalf of Democratic candidates for over forty years, performing at fundraisers and participating in campaign events. In addition, the Streisand Foundation has raised millions for causes including the environment, women’s equality as well as human and civil rights and liberties.

“I’m honored to have Barbra’s support,” said Clinton. “Barbra has used her immense talent to be an advocate for truth, justice, and fairness and I deeply appreciate her confidence in my candidacy as we work together to change the direction of our nation.”

Barbra Streisand is a singer, theatre and film actress, composer, film producer and director. She has won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Original Song as well as multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. She is considered one of the most commercially and critically successful female entertainers in modern history.

Streisand, who was famously friendly with the Clintons during their residency in the White House, had previously given to the Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Dodd campaigns. Streisand’s spreading around of her wealth prompted reports of a rift with the Clintons.


Dems, Huckabee Blast Saudi Justice

By Daniel Treiman

The Saudis are getting a lashing from Democratic presidential hopefuls for the recent sentencing of a 19-year-old gang-rape victim to 200 lashes for “adultery.” Taking on the Saudis has long been a popular tack for Democrats, given the cozy relations between the House of Saud and the House of Bush. This time around, leading Democratic contenders lined up to condemn the sentence and the Bush administration’s failure to condemn it more forcefully.

Hillary said:

This is an outrage. The Bush administration has refused to condemn the sentence and said it will not protest an internal Saudi decision. I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman. As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world.

Her stance earned her some kudos from an unlikely corner, the resolutely conservative New York Sun, which editorialized: “The candidate who has been toughest on Saudi Arabia in the past week hasn’t been Mayor Giuliani, Senator McCain, or Governor Romney, but Senator Clinton, the Democrat of New York.” It continued: “Hats off to Mrs. Clinton for talking tough to the Saudis.” (Then, of course, the non-nonpartisan Sun proceeded to list the Saudis who donated large sums to the Bill Clinton’s presidential library.)

One Republican candidate who spoke out strongly on the issue is the surging Mike Huckabee. The AP reports:

“The United States has been far too involved in sort of looking the other way, not only at the atrocities of human rights and violation of women,” Huckabee said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“Every time we put our credit card in the gas pump, we’re paying so that the Saudis get rich — filthy, obscenely rich, and that money then ends up going to funding madrassas,” schools “that train the terrorists,” said Huckabee. “America has allowed itself to become enslaved to Saudi oil. It’s absurd. It’s embarrassing.”

Huckabee said “I would make the United States energy independent within 10 years and tell the Saudis they can keep their oil just like they can keep their sand, that we won’t need either one of them.”

This isn’t the first time that Huckabee has talked tough on the Saudis. His campaign Web site’s page on energy policy — on which he calls for the development of alternative energy sources and more conservation — says of the Saudis: “These folks have had us over a barrel - literally - for way too long.”


Is Michael Lerner Still Chatting with Hillary?

By Jennifer Siegel

This interview would seem to suggest he is:

LERNER: I’ve met with a number of the political candidates and they said what I already knew, which is: “This is very good. We agree with it but we can’t say it publicly because the cynics who dominate public discourse would laugh us out of the political arena. We’re not going to say these ideas publicly until more of our constituents say them first to us.”

That’s how American politics works. It is democratic in that sense. You have to hear it from the grass roots before it will be said from the top. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal described me as the “guru of the Clinton White House.” Supposedly I was a major influence on Hillary Clinton. Yet when I speak with Hillary she says that she agrees with everything I say, but she can’t put these ideas forward because she doesn’t hear them coming from people when she goes out to speak. That’s why I’ve organized the Network of Spiritual Progressives - to popularize a different way.


Chai for Hillary

By Jennifer Siegel

If you’re in DC tonight, check out Chai for HIllary – a network of Jews backing the junior senator from New York. Suggested contribution? You guessed it: $18.


For Giuliani, Insults from Carter Sound a Lot Like Praise

By Jennifer Siegel

The Giuliani campaign is clearly reveling in being attacked by none other than Jimmy Carter on CNN last night. Carter – proving once again that he has zero intention of going quietly into the night – called Giuliani “foolish” for his contention the United States should be open to using force against Iran.

By this morning the Giuliani campaign was emailing around choice snippets from Carter’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, under the subject hearing, “In Case You Were Weren’t Clear That Rudy Is The Right Man To Keep Us On Offense In The Terrorists War On Us.”

Clearly, Carter’s barbs (like when he said the GOP contenders are “competing with each other to appeal to the ultra-right-wing, war-mongering element in our country,”) are only music to the ears of the GOP field. Carter acknowledged as much when he declined to tell Blitzer which Republican he fears the most.

“If I condemn one of them, it might escalate him to the top position in the Republican ranks,” Carter said.

As much as the Republicans love (to hate) Carter, the Democratic frontrunners are clearly going to spend the race hating (having to pretend to not hate) him.

Carter told CNN he disagreed with positions taken by Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have declined to promise to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq over the following four years if elected president next year.

Given the influence of the Israel lobby — the most powerful in the country, according to Carter — he is not convinced that another president would be willing to do what he considers necessary to bring peace to Israel-Palestine.

“Can the next president say that Palestinian rights need to be protected?” he asked. “Can the next president say that settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace? I don’t know.”

With a new, new book out – “Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease and Building Hope” (Simon & Schuster) – Carter is, by his own admission, on another book tour that feels “like being on the campaign trail.”

The question, down the road, is how will his potential criticism of Clinton and Obama play? It may make them seem trustworthy and mainstream to average Americans, but it may also help galvanize critics in the Democratic base.


Best Presidential Campaign Target Ever: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

By jennifer Siegel

Mitt Romney kicked it off by urging the UN to revoke the Iranian president’s invitation to the General Assembly, and now Hillary Clinton’s office has a statement objecting the the already-defunct visit to Ground Zero.


No Division of Jerusalem, Hillary Says

By Jennifer Siegel

In a position paper released to JTA today, Hillary Clinton affirms her belief in Israel’s right to exist with an undivided Jersalem as its capital.


Survey Says: Rabbis For Hillary

By Jennifer Siegel

A survey released by the STAR project (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal) finds that a plurality of rabbis, from all religious streams, name Hillary Clinton as the presidential candidate most supportive of Israel.

Asked which candidate is most supportive of Israel, 41 percent said they were unsure. Clinton polled highest, at 22 percent, followed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, at 16 percent, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at 3 percent. Clinton also was ranked as most supportive of Jewish causes in America in general with 24 percent, followed again by Giuliani with 10 percent and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with 3 percent.


Barack in Brooklyn ...

By Jennifer Siegel

On August 22. Here’s the sign-up.

Clinton has been outraising Obama in Brooklyn so far, but lately he’s been gaining ground.


Who's Up, Who's Down: Foreign Policy on the Campaign Trail

By Jennifer Siegel

Everywhere we turned this week, presidential contenders were working to score public relations points with posturing on foreign policy.

Here’s the quick summary, along with some verdicts about whether they came out ahead or behind in the image game:

Barack Obama was branded as “irresponsible” by Pakistan’s foreign minister after saying that, as president, he might unilaterally decide to send troops to combat terrorism there. A week ago, the Illinois senator was fighting off bad foreign policy PR after announcing, at the CNN/You Tube debate, that he would commit to diplomatic meetings with the leaders of Iran and other rogue states. Which is it – too hard or too soft? Verdict: DOWN.

Mitt Romney cites Hezbollah as a model for “health diplomacy.” Point well taken, but still. Verdict: DOWN.

The GOP contenders – minus Iraq stalwart John McCain – begin to distance themselves from Bush on the war. Will they open themselves up to flip-flopping charges down the road? Clearly, they’re willing to risk it. Verdict: UP.

John Edwards gets out from under Clinton-Obama by talking tough against the Saudi arms deal. Verdict: UP.


Got Jew? Hillary and Barack Sign Up Jewish Lawmakers

By Jennifer Siegel

Several days after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, tussled publicly over whether to hold direct talks with the leaders of Iran and Syria, they both seem particularly eager to show support from Jewish members of Congress.

Clinton announced the endorsement of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California yesterday. Meanwhile, Obama announced that Rep. Paul Hodes, a freshman lawmaker from New Hampshire, will serve as a national co-chair of his campaign, while veteran New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman will serve as Northeast Regional Co-chair.


Feinstein for Hillary

By Jennifer Siegel

Here’s the press release sent out by the Clinton campaign this afternoon:

California Senator Dianne Feinstein Endorses Hillary Clinton

The Clinton Campaign announced today the endorsement of California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein, demonstrating Hillary’s growing support in the Golden State.

“This is a very special moment for me because I have the opportunity to endorse the campaign of a U.S. Senator who I believe will be the first female President of the United States,” Senator Feinstein said. “Hillary Clinton, I believe, has the experience, the heart, and the strength to be a great American President. There has been no election for President where change is as defined and necessary as this one. The question is who is best equipped to lead that change. I believe it is Hillary.”

As California’s senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein has built a reputation as an independent voice, working with both Democrats and Republicans to find common-sense solutions to the problems facing California and the nation.

Since her election to the Senate in 1992, Senator Feinstein has worked in a bipartisan way to build a significant record of legislative accomplishments helping strengthen the nation’s security both here and abroad, combat crime and violence, battle cancer, and protect natural resources in California and across the country.

In the 110th Congress, Senator Feinstein assumed the Chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee, where she oversees ethics, campaign and election reform. Senator Feinstein also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she is the Chairman of the Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security Subcommittee. And she is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence.

“Dianne and I have fought side by side in the Senate to expand stem cell research, to take care of our veterans when they return home and to stop the privatization of Social Security,” Clinton said. “Dianne is such a respected voice in the Senate, I’m honored to have her support as we work together to bring the war in Iraq to an end and deliver the change this country wants.”

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Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee


It's Official: Obama's On Top

By Jennifer Siegel

Obama raises $32 million, besting Clinton’s $27 million.


Team Hillary Plays Politics of Managing Expectations

By Jennifer Siegel

With the June 30 filing deadline for second quarter fundraising fast approaching, the Clinton campaign is once again telling supporters know it expects to be outraised by Team Obama.

“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,” wrote campaign communications director Howard Wolfson in a memo that went out to supporters this morning. “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.”

(In the first quarter, Team Hillary raked in $26 million; Team Barack raked in $25.7.)

Both camps have been underselling themselves in recent weeks, so stayed tuned.


Union Boss: Bloomberg "Sure Sounded Like He Was Thinking About" Running

By Jennifer Siegel

Those are the words of Joseph Hansen, the international president of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, who spoke with the Forward at a dinner put on by the Jewish Labor Committee in NYC last night.

According to Hansen, Bloomberg met with top union leaders, including the Teamsters’ general president, James P. Hoffa, in Miami, Florida in December 2006.

“He sure sounded like he was thinking about it,” Hansen told the Forward. But “he didn’t say he was going to run.” “He’s a credible candidate, but I think it is very unlikely that he gets a union endorsement at this point–he’s an interesting guy.”

(For more on Bloomberg’s long push to a possible run, see this.)

And what is Hansen’s view on Hillary Clinton, who has taken some flak lately over the supposed union-busting activities of her top adviser, Mark Penn?

Positive: “Hillary’s been out there working on all our issues.”

Hansen said that an endorsement from his union would not come at least until September, when the executive board has a meeting, but that he would not be surprised if there is a split endorsement, given deep divisions among both union members and leaders.


Hollywood Goes Hillary

By Jennifer Siegel

According to the Nation which blogged about her $1.1 million swing-through last week.



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