Webmaster Search Engine

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Steve King, Republican Congressman: Al-Qaida Will Be "Dancing In The Streets" If "Hussein" Obama Wins


King refused to back down from his comments in an interview with Fox News Channel host Geraldo Rivera:

"I reject [McCain's] disavowal and I reject the Democrat web pages that call me the names that they have," King said. "I'd ask them to point to the quote that I have said that offends them. And if I am wrong, Geraldo, and we elect Obama to the presidency and he declares defeat, if they don't dance in the streets, I will come and apologize to you and everybody in America. But I'm saying, I'm right."

From the AP:

An Iowa Republican congressman said Friday that terrorists would be "dancing in the streets" if Democratic candidate Barack Obama were to win the presidency.

Rep. Steve King based his prediction on Obama's pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, his Kenyan heritage and his middle name, Hussein.

"The radical Islamists, the al-Qaida ... would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror," King said in an interview with the Daily Reporter in Spencer.

King said his comments were not meant to demean Obama but to warn how an Obama presidency would look to the world.

"His middle name does matter," King said. "It matters because they read a meaning into that."

Keep reading

More Of King's Comments from the Spencer Daily Reporter:

"There are implications that have to do with who he is and the position that he's taken. If he were strong on national defense and said 'I'm going to go over there and we're going to fight and we're going to win, we'll come home with a victory,' that's different. But that's not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he's elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror."
Keep reading

Watch the interview:



Listen to the full interview here

Read more about Steve King here



Past Statements By King:

***In a statement issued by his Congressional office following the release of photos depicting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, King referred to the maltreatment of prisoners at the infamous Baghdad prison as "what amounts to hazing."

***In June 2006, on the floor of the House of Representatives, King said that his family would be safer in Iraq than Washington D.C.:


Well I by now have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, she's at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq.

***After the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, King said:

"There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he's at," King said about al-Zarqawi, in a recording transcribed by Radio Iowa. "And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."

***King has called former Sen. Joseph McCarthy, "a great American hero."

***King said immigrants trying to cross the border from Mexico should be treated like livestock:

I also say we need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder there. We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.

Original here

Clinton's experience claim under scrutiny

Hillary Clinton may have influenced foreign policy, but evidence is scant she played pivotal role


WASHINGTON - Surrounded by military leaders in a Cabinet-style setting, Hillary Clinton on Thursday said she has "crossed the threshold" of foreign policy experience to serve as commander in chief.

Supporters of rival Barack Obama fired back immediately, arguing that the former first lady's trips abroad hardly constituted a practice run for managing global crises.

"She was never asked to do the heavy lifting" when meeting with foreign leaders, said Susan Rice, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now advising Obama. "She wasn't asked to move the mountain or deliver a harsh message or a veiled threat. It was all gentle prodding or constructive reinforcement. And it would not have been appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting."


The debate over readiness for the global arena is emerging as the flash point in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, crystallized by a dramatic Clinton campaign commercial asking who is best prepared to answer a 3 a.m. phone call to the White House during a crisis.

Clinton says she is the answer, arguing that Obama's major achievement was his early opposition to the Iraq war in 2002. Indeed, Obama doesn't have much in the way of experience managing foreign crises, nor does Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, for that matter. In fact, it is rare for any president to have that kind of experience before coming into office.

In Clinton's case, she may well have exercised influence on foreign policy that is hard to document because she had a unique opportunity to offer private counsel to her husband, President Bill Clinton.

But while Hillary Clinton represented the U.S. on the world stage at important moments while she was first lady, there is scant evidence that she played a pivotal role in major foreign policy decisions or in managing global crises.

Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she "helped to bring peace" to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo. She also cited "standing up" to the Chinese government on women's rights and a one-day visit she made to Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords.

Earlier in the campaign, she and her husband claimed that she had advocated on behalf of a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda to stop the genocide there.

'Ancillary' to process

But her involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process was primarily to encourage activism among women's groups there, a contribution that the lead U.S. negotiator described as "helpful" but that an Irish historian who has written extensively about the conflict dismissed as "ancillary" to the peace process.

The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

Whatever her private conversations with the president may have been, key foreign policy officials say that a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda was never considered in the Clinton administration's policy deliberations. Despite lengthy memoirs by both Clintons and former Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, any advice she gave on Rwanda had not been mentioned until her presidential campaign.

"In my review of the records, I didn't find anything to suggest that military intervention was put on the table in NSC [National Security Council] deliberations," said Gail Smith, a Clinton NSC official who did a review for the White House of the administration's handling of the Rwandan genocide. Smith is an Obama supporter.

Prudence Bushnell, a retired State Department official who handled the Rwanda portfolio at the time and has not allied with a presidential candidate, confirmed that a U.S. military intervention was not considered in policy deliberations, as did several senior Clinton administration officials with first-hand knowledge who declined to be identified.

Clinton has previously described her role in the Northern Ireland peace process as meeting with women's groups to encourage them to build a political climate for peace.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, who was the lead U.S. negotiator, said Clinton's visits were "very helpful."

"She was especially involved in encouraging women to get involved in the peace process," which was a "significant factor" in the agreement, Mitchell said in an interview.

But Tim Pat Coogan, an Irish historian who has written extensively on the conflict in Northern Ireland, said the first lady's visits were not decisive in the negotiating breakthroughs in Northern Ireland.

"It was a nice thing to see her there, with the women's groups. It helped, I suppose," Coogan said. "But it was ancillary to the main thing. It was part of the stage effects, the optics.

"There were all kinds of peace movements, women's movements throughout the 'Troubles.' But it was more about the clout of Bill Clinton," added Coogan, who said Clinton administration decisions to grant visas to leaders of the Irish Republican Army's political wing and appoint a U.S. negotiator were the keys to changing the political climate.

Beijing speech

One of Clinton's most noteworthy forays onto the foreign stage came in 1995, when she delivered a speech at the United Nations' women's conference in Beijing. That speech was widely noted and hailed as a bold call for women's rights, especially because Clinton explicitly spoke out against forced abortion and other practices of the host country.

"In the years since, I have met many women from many places who tell me they were at Beijing, or had friends who were, or who were inspired by the conference to launch initiatives," Albright wrote in her 2003 memoir.

The speech might never have happened if the first lady had not pressed for it, said one former Clinton administration official sympathetic to her candidacy who traveled with her and Albright to Beijing. The administration was conflicted about whether Hillary Clinton should go to Beijing at all because of the regime's record on human rights.

"Yet she was determined to go and was convinced that her going would send a very strong signal of support for human rights," said the official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named. "Everyone at the end of the process almost certainly would have said, 'How could we be so foolish to question the wisdom of the trip?'"

Still, Rice questioned whether that trip amounted to the kind of preparation for a global crisis that Clinton has claimed.

"How does going to Beijing and giving a speech show crisis management? There was no crisis. And there was nothing to manage," Rice said.

Macedonia visit

In 1999, Clinton visited Albanian refugee camps in Macedonia during the NATO bombing campaign to force Slobodan Milosevic's troops out of Kosovo. Macedonia had sealed its borders in an attempt to stop the arrival of refugees but, under Western pressure, reopened them the day before Clinton visited the camps.

A former Clinton administration official sympathetic to her candidacy said her presence "played a very important role in helping to shore up support for the Kosovars."

But Ivo Daalder, a former Clinton NSC official with responsibility for the Balkans and author of a history of the Kosovo conflict, said the border opening had nothing to do with her negotiating skills.

"It was her coming that helped. But she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations," said Daalder, an Obama supporter. "This had nothing to do with her competence."

Original here



Sleeping child in Clinton attack video supports Barack


Is Hillary Clinton a Muslim?


This is a video response to Blistering Attack on Obama

Original here

Clinton's Foreign Policy Record Examined

WASHINGTON (AP) — To hear Hillary Rodham Clinton tell it now, she had a lot more going on as first lady than she let on at the time.

On the presidential campaign trail, Clinton frequently makes the pitch that she is uniquely qualified to pass the "commander in chief" test in large part because of her foreign policy and national security experience in Bill Clinton's White House.

She takes credit for helping bring peace to Northern Ireland, negotiating open borders for refugees fleeing Kosovo, standing up to the Chinese government over women's rights, and flying into Bosnia when it was too dangerous to send the president.

There is little doubt that Clinton was an exceptionally activist first lady. She was the first to set up shop in a West Wing office alongside other White House policymakers, and immediately was in the thick of domestic policy deliberations, most notably her long and unsuccessful fight for health care reform.

Clinton also took a keen interest in foreign policy, traveling to more than 80 countries, with her husband and alone, to promote U.S. policy and the cause of women and children.

But Clinton is taking credit for accomplishing more than some of those who were active in foreign policy during the Clinton years recall.

Former Clinton administration officials, many of them now aligned with either Clinton or Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama, offer differing views on the extent of her influence — and its relevance to the presidential race.

"Her experience speaks for itself," says former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is advising Clinton's campaign. She wasn't the one making the final decisions on U.S. policy, he says, but "no one in the world got a better idea of the countervailing pressures. The most important decision a president can make is to send Americans into harm's way. She knows what that entails."

A contrary view comes from Susan Rice, a former assistant secretary of state from the Clinton years and an Obama campaign adviser. She said Clinton's involvement with foreign policy as first lady was "laudable and important, but it is hardly the same thing as the kind of crisis management" that is required of a president. "There is no crisis to be dealt with or managed when you are first lady," Rice said.

A look at some of Clinton's specific foreign policy claims:

_NORTHERN IRELAND: "I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland."

Clinton traveled to Northern Ireland five times as first lady, and was a tireless advocate for the peace process. But she was not directly involved in negotiating the Good Friday peace accord.

She did encourage Irish women on both sides of the conflict to come together and get involved in a process that was dominated by men.

Former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell, who brokered the peace accord, said Clinton was "quite helpful."

"She became quite active in encouraging women in Northern Ireland to engage in the political process and in the peace process, and ultimately the role of women was important in moving the process forward," said Mitchell, who is neutral in the presidential race. "She was one of many people who participated in encouraging women to get involved, not the only one."

John Hume, the Catholic leader who shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the peace accord, credits Clinton for playing a "pivotal role" in the peace process.

But others in Northern Ireland say Clinton overstates her role.

"The road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn't on it," says Brian Feeney, an author and former leading Belfast politician from the same party as Hume.

KOSOVO: "I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo."

At the urging of the Macedonian government, Clinton in May 1999 traveled to Macedonia, which was being inundated with Albanian refugees from Kosovo. She visited a huge refugee camp, held hands with children, told their parents they would go home and announced business loans for the country to help its laggard economy cope with the refugee influx.

On May 5, Macedonian officials had shut the border to refugees, blaming the West for allowing more than a quarter-million people to overwhelm the country. Despite later government insistence that the border was open again, Serb soldiers appeared to be blocking refugees' exit, and only a trickle passed through on May 13, the day before Clinton arrived, according to an AP story written at the time. Refugees were reported to be afraid even to attempt the crossing.

Melanne Verveer, a Clinton aide who accompanied the first lady on the trip to Macedonia, said that only a small section of the border was open when she arrived, and that there was no guarantee it wouldn't close again at any time.

Verveer, who sat in on May 14 meetings between the first lady and Macedonia's president and prime minister, said Clinton was forceful in urging the leaders to keep the border open, and in assuring the Macedonians that the U.S. would support them in coping with the influx of refugees.

"What she did there I don't think can be underestimated in terms of the positive impact that it had," said Verveer, who is active in Clinton's campaign.

Robert Gelbard, who was presidential envoy to the Balkans at the time and now serves as an adviser to the Obama campaign, offers an opposing view.

"I cannot recall any involvement by Senator Clinton in this issue," he said. "The person who was able to get the border opened was Mrs. Sadako Ogata," the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. Gelbard said he had questioned other U.S. officials directly involved and none remembered involvement by Clinton.

There were no public reports at the time of Clinton negotiating to keep the border open.

Overall, said Gelbard, "She had more of a role on some foreign policy issues than a lot of other first ladies, including, for example, the current one. My own firsthand experience, though, is that her role was limited and I've been surprised at the claims that she had a much greater role than certainly I'm aware of on the issues I was working on."

SERBIA: "I urged him to bomb."

Clinton doesn't bring this one up now, but in a 1999 interview published in Talk magazine, the first lady was quoted as saying that she had urged her husband to recommend a NATO bombing campaign on Serb targets to halt ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. According to the story, Clinton called the president on March 21, 1999, from her travels in North Africa. "I urged him to bomb," she was quoted as saying. "You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?" NATO airstrikes began March 24.

Clinton generally refuses to talk about the private advice she gave her husband. But Holbrooke this week recalled a time during the subsequent NATO bombing campaign when he and his wife were invited upstairs at the White House after a social event. He said Hillary Clinton was a big participant in an hour-long discussion about the bombing, the possible use of ground troops and other matters.

She didn't take sides in the conversation, Holbrooke said, "but I have no doubt that she continued the conversation in the privacy of their relationship" and made her views clear.

CHINA: "I've been standing up to the Chinese government over women's rights."

Clinton says her participation on the U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 was "one of the highlights of my own life." There had been a huge debate over whether she should even go, with some human rights advocates expressing concern that China would use the conference as a public relations tool.

Clinton got strong reviews for threading the diplomatic needle with an impassioned speech that contained a wide-ranging denunciation of human rights abuses worldwide. She criticized China, without naming it directly, for the practice of sterilization and forced abortion, and for preventing many women from attending or participating fully in the conference.

In her memoir, Clinton writes about the rousing reception her speech received at the conference and adds, "What I didn't know at the time was that my 21-minute speech would become a manifesto for women all over the world. To this day, whenever I travel overseas, women come up to me quoting words from the Beijing speech or clutching copies they want me to autograph."

Rice, the former Clinton administration official now supporting Obama, credits the first lady for delivering an important speech on women's rights, but says that that doesn't translate into presidential crisis management credentials.

BOSNIA: "If the place was too small, too dangerous or too poor, send Hillary."

Clinton cites her March 1996 trip to Bosnia as an example of traveling into a war zone to promote U.S. policy, recalling a harrowing "corkscrew" landing during which she and her daughter, Chelsea, were ordered into the armored front of the plane to protect them against possible ground fire. She jokes that one mantra around the Clinton White House, was that "if the place was too small, too dangerous or too poor, send Hillary."

Clinton brought up the trip to counter Obama's suggestion that her experiences as first lady amounted to having tea at an ambassador's house.

"I don't remember anyone offering me tea," Clinton said of the Bosnia visit.

Security was very tight on Clinton's goodwill tour to Bosnia, but officials said at the time that she took no extraordinary risks.

Rice, the Obama supporter, dismissed the trip as a "meet and greet." She stressed that comedian Sinbad and singer Sheryl Crow accompanied Clinton on the flight to put on a USO show for the troops.

Original here

Wyoming Caucus Election: News, Polls, Results On Clinton, Obama Race

UPDATED 3/9 **

OBAMA DEFEATS CLINTON IN WYOMING: AP reports:

Sen. Barack Obama captured the Wyoming Democratic caucuses Saturday, seizing a bit of momentum in the close, hard-fought race with rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party's presidential nomination.


Obama generally has outperformed Clinton in caucuses, which reward organization and voter passion more than do primaries. The Illinois senator has now won 13 caucuses to Clinton's three.

Obama has also shown strength in the Mountain West, winning Idaho, Utah, Colorado and now Wyoming. The two split Nevada, with Clinton winning the popular vote and Obama more delegates.

But Clinton threw some effort into Wyoming, perhaps hoping for an upset that would yield few delegates but considerable buzz and momentum. The New York senator campaigned Friday in Cheyenne and Casper. Former President Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea, also campaigned this week in the sprawling and lightly populated state.

Obama campaigned in Casper and Laramie on Friday, but spent part of his time dealing with the fallout from an aide's harsh words about Clinton and suggestions that Obama wouldn't move as quickly to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq if elected. In Casper, Obama said Clinton had no standing to challenge his position on the war because she had voted to authorize it in 2002.

Clinton, buoyed by big wins in Ohio and Texas last Tuesday, said she faced an uphill fight in Wyoming. Her campaign also holds out little hope for Tuesday's primary in Mississippi, which has a large black population.

Obama had 58 percent, or 4,138 votes, to Clinton's 41 percent, or 2,876 votes with 21 of 23 Wyoming counties reporting.

Obama won at least seven delegates and Clinton won at least four, with one Wyoming delegate still to be awarded. In the overall race for the nomination, Obama led 1,578-1,467. It will take 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Both candidates were looking ahead to the bigger prize _ delegate-rich Pennsylvania on April 22.

From the first caucuses of the day, it became clear the state's Democrats were showing up in large numbers. In 2004, a mere 675 people statewide took part in the caucuses.

In Sweetwater County, more than 500 people crowded into a high school auditorium and another 500 were lined up to get inside.

"I'm worried about where we're going to put them all. But I guess everybody's got the same problem," said Joyce Corcoran, a local party official. "So far we're OK. But man, they keep coming."

Party officials were struggled with how to handle the overflow crowds. The start of the Converse County caucus was delayed due to long lines.

In Cheyenne, scores of late arrivers were turned away when party officials stopped allowing people to get in line at 11 a.m. EST. A party worker stood at the end of the line with a sign reading, "End of the line. Caucus rules require the voter registration process to be closed at this time."

State party spokesman Bill Luckett said they were obligated to follow its rules as well as those of the Democratic National Committee regarding caucus procedures.

"Everybody knew the registration began over an hour before the caucus was called to order. We've done everything we could to accommodate people in the long lines," Luckett said.

After initially accepting provisional ballots from about 20 people who remained behind at the caucus site, party officials said they and both campaigns had decided not to count those votes. John Millin, state party chair, said doing so would have been unfair to those who had left after being turned away.

In Casper, home of the state party's headquarters, hundreds were lined up at the site of the Natrona County caucus. The location was a hotel meeting room with a capacity of 500. Some 7,700 registered Democrats live in the county.

"We'll have to put 'em in the grass after a while," said Bob Warburton, a local party official.

About 59,000 registered Democrats are eligible to participate in Wyoming's caucuses.

Only in the last few weeks have the campaigns stepped up their presence in Wyoming, opening offices and calling voters and sending mailers.

Although a win in Wyoming may not persuade many superdelegates, it will be one more prize for the candidates as they make their case for the nomination.

Clinton has hinted recently that if she wins the nomination she would consider sharing the ticket with Obama. But in an interview Friday in Wyoming with KTVQ-TV, a CBS affiliate based in Billings, Mont., Obama shied away from that possibility.

"Well, you know, I think it's premature. You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate _ you know, I'm running for president," Obama told the television station. "We have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton, and have a higher popular vote, and I think we can maintain our delegate count.

"What I am really focused on right now, because all that stuff is premature, is winning this nomination and changing the country. I think that's what people here are concerned about."

Turnout Strong In Wyoming: NYT reports on the big crowds at today's caucuses, which end at 6 PM ET:

"At times it's lonely being a Democrat in Wyoming," John Millin, the chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said this morning.


Not today.

By 7:30 a.m., an hour and a half before the Laramie County caucus was set to begin, the line to enter the caucus site snaked for blocks through downtown Cheyenne.

Betty Jo Beardsley, a party aide, glanced at the throng of people swarming the registration table.

Is turnout higher than expected?, she was asked.

"Oh, God," she replied.

No official word on the numbers yet. But in Laramie County, population 80,000, officials expected at least 2,000 people to show up at the caucus.

Talking Up Clean Coal: In the big coal state of Wyoming, both Clinton and Obama are promising major new resources in clean coal technology.

+++

In A Numbers Game Every Contest Matters: The AP notes:

Twelve delegates will be awarded in Wyoming's caucuses, followed by 33 on Tuesday in Mississippi.

The relatively small number of delegates in these states, not seen as important weeks ago, have gained value now that the race is down to a numbers game, following Clinton's triple-win this week in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, where she narrowed the gap with Obama.

Clinton Tries To Lower Expectations: AP reports:

"I said, 'Well you know what, I'm going to go to Wyoming anyway _ I know it's an uphill climb, I'm aware of that," Clinton told an audience of more than 1,500 at a community college in Cheyenne. "But, you see, I am a fighter, and I believe it's worth fighting for your votes."

Wyoming Stunned By Presidential Attention: "Some Democrats here say they have never seen a political mood swing so overwhelming or so fast -- from the status quo of irrelevance to full kiss-kiss campaign embrace, in nothing flat," the New York Times reports.

"I have never had a period of compressed political intensity like these last 48 hours," Kathleen M. Karpan, a longtime Democratic activist and former Wyoming secretary of state, said Thursday. Ms. Karpan, who supports Mrs. Clinton, of New York, took a week off from her law practice to help with last minute details before Saturday.

Around the state, caucus locations are being moved from living rooms to meeting halls. Here in Laramie County, the most populous, Democrats reserved the Cheyenne Civic Center, which will seat up to 1,500 people for an event that in the past has drawn maybe 250.

Bill Clinton Campaigns: The Casper Star-Tribune: In Laramie, Wyo., Bill Clinton spoke on behalf of his wife to a crowd of about 2,000 about how "the Iraq war has nearly broken the American military." The event took place at a small University of Wyoming gymnasium next to the 15,000-seat Arena-Auditorium where Sen. Barack Obama will speak at 7:15 p.m. today. Hundreds of people who had stood in line for hours in the 20-degree afternoon air were turned away because of a lack of space in the UniWyo Sports Complex, where the volleyball and wrestling teams compete. Clinton spoke for 58 minutes and then shook hands for another half hour before his motorcade left for the airport.

Tickets are sold out to today's Obama town hall, but there are still some available to the 15,000-seater.

Clinton, Obama Up With Ads: "Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois both have 60-second radio advertisements in the state," the New York Times reports.

Mrs. Clinton's spot touts her plan for universal health care coverage. It features the story of Barbara Marzelli of New Hampshire, whose 10-year-old son has major heart problems but has benefited from the children's health insurance program that she championed.


"I've met her, I've read her health care plan," says Ms. Marzelli, who is also featured at among the "Hillary I Know" videos. "I remember walking up to her and saying, 'I would feel a lot more safe if you were president than I have in many, many years."

Mr. Obama's advertisement has some Wyoming-specific language and includes a subtle dig at the Clinton years.

"All across America, people are working hard, doing the best they can," Mr. Obama says. "But for decades now, while Wall Street has prospered, most Americans have been running in place."

An announcer says Mr. Obama would "close corporate tax loopholes so we can cut taxes for working families and start small business in Wyoming so our kids don't have to leave home to follow their dreams."

Original here

Obama wows Casper; Clinton next

CASPER — Barack Obama told a cheering crowd at a town hall meeting in Casper today that he would restore respect for law in the White House by reviewing every executive order issued by President George W. Bush and discarding any deemed unconstitutional.

Obama's comments came in response to a question from a man in the audience who said he worried that presidents sometimes consider themselves above the law.

Obama's rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to speak in Casper this evening.

Both made appearances in the state in advance of Wyoming's caucuses Saturday. The state will award 12 pledged delegates.

In his speech, Obama praised the libertarian spirit of Westerners — Republicans and Democrats alike — and condemned the Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretaps and a willingness to hold prisoners without charges.

"There's nothing Republican about that. Everyone should be outraged by that," he said.

As president, he said he would ask his attorney general "to review every executive order" of the Bush administration. "We are going to overturn those that were unconstitutional. We are going to overturn those that are unnecessary."

His answer drew a standing ovation from a mostly Democratic audience at the Casper Recreation Center.

In Wyoming, a Republican-dominated state and home of Vice President Dick Cheney, Obama promised to end the war in Iraq.

Iraq "was an unwise war," he said, waged by Bush "with an assist from Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain," his rivals for the presidency. "I will bring this war to an end in 2009."

Obama made light of recent criticisms that he is untested and unready for the "3 a.m. call" informing the president of a national crisis.

"Watch out for this politics of fear," he said. "What do people think I'm going to do? I'm going to answer the phone," adding that he would not be browbeaten into an unnecessary war.

His answers did not please everyone.

Barack Obama speaks to supporters in Casper. (Post | RJ Sangosti)
He told one fan of the space program that he does plan to cut some parts the NASA budget, partly to finance education programs.

"I grew up on Star Trek," he said and believes in the future of the space program, but "NASA has lost focus and is no longer a source of inspiration."

Obama also drew cheers and a standing ovation on a surprise subject: school tests.

He said he believes art and music are vital aspects of a public-school education. "I don"t want them to just learn to a test."

Many of the people at the recreation center said they are still undecided in the presidential race, but they all agreed on one thing: It's great to see presidential candidates in Wyoming.

"It's pretty historic for someone to finally come to

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks during a town hall meeting in Casper today, (AP | David Zalubowski)
Wyoming. I had to come watch him," said Tom Jones, a Casper resident who also plans to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton speak across town this evening. "JFK was here in Casper. That's the last one," he said.

Jones said has not decided how he will vote in November but would like to hear all three candidates in person.

Katy Cushing and her brother, Brian, also described themselves as on the fence.

She's leaning toward Obama: "I don't want to fall back to where we've been."

He's leaning toward Clinton: "Hillary's more vetted when it comes to this kind of thing," he said.

But on this they agreed: "We're just really excited to get a chance to participate — not being overlooked as Democrats," said Katy Cushing.

Chuck Lundgren drove almost 300 miles from Billings, Mont., to see Obama.

"I know too many young people that need health care," he said. "I think Obama has the best plan of them all. He also has all the experience he needs to be president, despite what Hillary's saying."

Both Democratic candidates had two events in the state today.

Original here

Obama: "You Won't See Me as a VP Candidate"

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: While in Casper, Wyo., today Sen. Barack Obama ruled out the possibility being a vice presidential candidate during an interview with CBS' Montana affiliate KTVQ. Here is a transcipt of what he said.

Q: You’ve raised $55 million in February and in your speech today you said "I was against the war in ’03, ’04, ’05 -- all the way on through 2010, and you specifically mentioned Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Could you ever see yourself on the same ticket as Senator Clinton?

A: Well, you know, I think it’s premature. You won’t see me as a vice presidential candidate -- you know, I’m running for president. We have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton, and have a higher popular vote, and I think we can maintain our delegate count -- but you know, what I’m really focused on right now, because all that stuff is premature, is winning this nomination and changing the country. And I think that’s what people here are concerned about. How are you going to provide health care to every American? So I spend a lot of time talking about the plan I wanted to put in place that would not only lower costs for those who already have health insurance, but also make sure people who don’t have health insurance can get health care as good as the health care I have as a member of Congress. Those are the kinds of issues that really make a difference in people’s lives, and we’re going to keep on talking about them.

Original here

Enthusiasm tilts toward Obama in Pa.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. - For Edwin David, who served with the famed World War II unit of black fighters known as the Tuskegee Airmen, Sen. Barack Obama is an easy choice.

"Just let me live till voting time in November," said David, 83, living in retirement in the Pocono Mountains. "In my lifetime, we just might get to see the first African-American president of the United States!"

Fresh from victories in the big states of Ohio and Texas, and with polls having shown her holding the lead here, even if it has dwindled, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton starts her campaign in Pennsylvania as the favorite to win the April 22 primary.

But in random interviews last week with dozens of voters in swing districts across the state, much of the Democratic voter enthusiasm seemed to tilt toward Obama, not only because he is a fresh face, but because they believe he has the best shot at beating Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain, whom they call old and out-of-touch.

But unlike David, many said it wasn't an easy decision.

Kate Clark, 53, a cafe owner in Nazareth, a small town near Allentown, said she struggled with her choice. Tempted to vote for Clinton because of her gender, she said Obama's energy and vision ultimately won out.

"I think we need to see the United States and see the world through eyes that are younger, through eyes that have dreams, through eyes that see something new for the nation," Clark said.

Clark said she worries about the health of the environment — and the economy. Fewer people are walking through the doors of her quaint eatery now than at any time since it opened 11 years ago.

"People are afraid. The five dollars that they have is being spent on gas, on food," she said. "Everyone's tight with cash."

On the other hand, Clinton supporter Carol Velez, 52, of Norristown, in the Philadelphia suburbs, calls Obama "a glorified preacher."

"His words are not his actions," said Velez, who works in sales. "His plan is not a reality. It's just what people want to hear."

Clinton, she said, "is totally qualified and experienced."

Republicans still hold the edge in voter registration in the Philadelphia suburbs, but steady Democratic gains and voters' willingness to cross party lines in that largely white-collar region have made it crucial to Democrats. The city itself contains the state's largest concentration of Democratic voters, and its large black population is expected to give Obama an advantage there.

Clinton is expected to run stronger in northeastern Pennsylvania, with its mix of blue-collar, culturally conservative voters around Scranton and the growing number of New York commuters who are moving in the Pocono Mountains region; and the Pittsburgh region in southwestern Pennsylvania.

In Nazareth, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, grocery-store manager Terry LaBar said he's undecided between Clinton and Obama. He wants to see them in the flesh before making up his mind.

"I think it's time that maybe a woman gets in there and expresses her views and has a chance," said Labar, who is married with two teenage children. On the other hand, he said, Obama represents a break with the past. "I'm always looking for new things to happen."

Another undecided Democrat is Tom Ciesielski, 43, who owns a pet food store in the Pittsburgh suburb of McCandless.

He might vote for Clinton because a win would put her husband, the former president, back in the White House too: "I like Bill Clinton. Life was good with Clinton."

But Obama, Ciesielski said, would be a uniter: "Obama seems like he would bring the world back together. We travel a lot and, man, everyone hates us because of the (Iraq) war."

Only Democrats can vote in the state's Democratic primary. The campaigns have until March 24 to sign up new party members from the 984,000 registered voters who are not members of either major party, or from potential defectors among the 3.2 million Republicans or Pennsylvanians who are not registered to vote.

Among black Democrats, there is an undeniable sense of pride that Obama could be the first black president.

Single mother Kenya Howard, 32, lists health care as her biggest day-to-day concern. Unemployed and uninsured, she avoids going to the doctor because it costs $50 for a visit. She likes Obama's health plan, but that is not the primary reason why she is supporting him.

"A good portion of it is because he's black," said Howard, of Allentown. "I think a lot of black people would say that."

Original here

Clinton-papers release blocked

LITTLE ROCK — Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

The archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests.

Clinton's legal agent declined the option of reviewing and releasing the documents that were withheld, said the archivists, who work for the federal government, not the Clintons.

The decision to withhold the records could provide fodder for critics who say that the former president and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, have been unwilling to fully release documents to public scrutiny.

Officials with the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., criticized Hillary Clinton this week for not doing more to see that records from her husband's administration are made public. "She's been reluctant to disclose information," Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, told reporters in a conference call in which he specifically cited the slow release records from the Clinton library. "If she's not willing to be open with (voters) on these issues now, why would she be open as president?"

In January 2006, USA TODAY requested documents about the pardons under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The library made 4,000 pages available this week. However, 1,500 pages were either partially redacted or withheld entirely, including 300 pages covering internal White House communications on pardon decisions, such as memos to and from the president, and reports on which pardon requests the Justice Department opposed.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign said that "all of the redactions made to the pardon-related documents were made by (the National Archives)."

Former president Clinton issued 140 pardons on his last day in office, including several to controversial figures, such as commodities trader Rich, then a fugitive on tax evasion charges. Rich's ex-wife, Denise, contributed $2,000 in 1999 to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign; $5,000 to a related political action committee; and $450,000 to a fund set up to build the Clinton library.

The president also pardoned two men who each paid Sen. Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, about $200,000 to lobby the White House for pardons — one for a drug conviction and one for mail fraud and perjury convictions, according to a 2002 report by the House committee on government reform. After the payments came to light, Bill Clinton issued a statement: "Neither Hillary nor I had any knowledge of such payments," the report said.

The pardon records released by the library divulge little that might settle debate about those and other pardons. But they do shed new light on the volume of clemency requests that former president Clinton received — and the pressures he and his staff faced as friends, advisers, political leaders and foreign heads of state weighed in to influence which petitions would be granted.

The files contain handwritten letters from several of the president's close associates. Former Democratic Party chairman Donald Fowler of South Carolina wrote a note seeking clemency for former congressman John Jenrette, D-S.C., who was convicted in the 1980 Abscam sting in which FBI agents, posing as Middle Eastern businessmen, offered lawmakers bribes for political favors. Clinton did not grant the pardon.

Most of the withheld documents, including dozens of clemency pleas sent to the president, were blocked from release under FOIA rules that protect personal privacy. The 300 pages of internal White House documents on pardon requests were blocked under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which allows presidents to maintain the confidentiality of communications with their advisers for up to 12 years after they leave office.

In 2002, Clinton sent a guidance letter to his library that urged quick release of most White House records but retained the confidentiality prerogative covering advice from his staff. Still, Clinton said the restriction should be interpreted "narrowly" and allowed that certain records detailing internal communications could be made public if reviewed and approved for release by his designated legal agent.

Emily Robison, the library's deputy director, said Clinton's agent, former deputy White House counsel Bruce Lindsey, chose not to review the withheld documents.

Lindsey "was given the opportunity to look at what we withheld under the (president's) guidelines, and he chose not to. … Only Mr. Lindsey and the president have the authority to open those," she said.

The William J. Clinton Foundation, which Lindsey helps oversee, said in a written statement that the National Archives is responsible for deciding which records are withheld under the Presidential Records Act. Archivists were exclusively responsible for "determinations with respect to these materials," the statement said.

Clinton's guidance to the library goes beyond his predecessors, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, in urging that most of his presidential records be released quickly, according to Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, a research institute at George Washington University that collects government records for public use.

Blanton noted that Lindsey's refusal to review the withheld documents could be viewed as an effort to ensure the archivists' independence. "He's saying the professional archivists get to make this determination; it's not a political determination."

The archivists' decision to withhold records that could be construed as confidential communications between Clinton and his advisers is more consistent with the Bush administration's hard line on the release of White House records, Blanton said.

President Bush signed an order in November 2001 that broadened former presidents' prerogative to block the release of internal White House records. That order, which Bill Clinton opposed, also allows a president's immediate family to assert the privilege.

In 2004, Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group, went to court to force the Bush administration to release Justice Department records on Clinton's pardons, and a federal judge ordered that the records be opened. But the administration, which argued that such releases would undermine a president's ability to get confidential advice, blacked out most of the documents it made public.

Christopher Farrell, a Judicial Watch director, noted that the pardon records blocked by the library also included all Justice Department reports that were sent to Clinton with recommendations on which clemency requests he should deny. He said it was "ridiculous" to withhold clemency petitions over privacy concerns. "These are people who were convicted in a court, and those cases are a matter of public record."

Original here

Obama wins delegate fight in Texas

Barack Obama

AUSTIN -- Obama Texas State Director Adrian Saenz issued a statement on the projected primary and caucus results that show Senator Obama won more Texas delegates than Senator Clinton.

"By fighting the primary to a near-draw and earning a resounding victory in the caucus, the people of Texas have moved Barack Obama one step closer to claiming the Democratic nomination for president," said Adrian Saenz. "Texans in both parties and of all ages sent a clear message that the American people are ready for the kind of change that Barack Obama will bring to Washington, DC as our 44th President."

Because of the close finish, Senator Clinton will likely net only two delegates up-for-grabs in the Texas Primary. Based on a large sample of caucus results in all 31 state senate districts, Senator Obama is projected to post a substantial victory in the Texas caucus and, thereby, net at least seven delegates. This means that Senator Obama will win at least five more pledged delegates from Texas than Senator Clinton.

Original here

Clinton's experience claim under scrutiny

WASHINGTON - Surrounded by military leaders in a Cabinet-style setting, Hillary Clinton on Thursday said she has "crossed the threshold" of foreign policy experience to serve as commander in chief.

Supporters of rival Barack Obama fired back immediately, arguing that the former first lady's trips abroad hardly constituted a practice run for managing global crises.

"She was never asked to do the heavy lifting" when meeting with foreign leaders, said Susan Rice, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now advising Obama. "She wasn't asked to move the mountain or deliver a harsh message or a veiled threat. It was all gentle prodding or constructive reinforcement. And it would not have been appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting."
een appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting."





The debate over readiness for the global arena is emerging as the flash point in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, crystallized by a dramatic Clinton campaign commercial asking who is best prepared to answer a 3 a.m. phone call to the White House during a crisis.

Clinton says she is the answer, arguing that Obama's major achievement was his early opposition to the Iraq war in 2002. Indeed, Obama doesn't have much in the way of experience managing foreign crises, nor does Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, for that matter. In fact, it is rare for any president to have that kind of experience before coming into office.

In Clinton's case, she may well have exercised influence on foreign policy that is hard to document because she had a unique opportunity to offer private counsel to her husband, President Bill Clinton.

But while Hillary Clinton represented the U.S. on the world stage at important moments while she was first lady, there is scant evidence that she played a pivotal role in major foreign policy decisions or in managing global crises.

Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she "helped to bring peace" to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo. She also cited "standing up" to the Chinese government on women's rights and a one-day visit she made to Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords.

Earlier in the campaign, she and her husband claimed that she had advocated on behalf of a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda to stop the genocide there.

'Ancillary' to process

But her involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process was primarily to encourage activism among women's groups there, a contribution that the lead U.S. negotiator described as "helpful" but that an Irish historian who has written extensively about the conflict dismissed as "ancillary" to the peace process.

The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

Whatever her private conversations with the president may have been, key foreign policy officials say that a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda was never considered in the Clinton administration's policy deliberations. Despite lengthy memoirs by both Clintons and former Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, any advice she gave on Rwanda had not been mentioned until her presidential campaign.

"In my review of the records, I didn't find anything to suggest that military intervention was put on the table in NSC [National Security Council] deliberations," said Gail Smith, a Clinton NSC official who did a review for the White House of the administration's handling of the Rwandan genocide. Smith is an Obama supporter.

Prudence Bushnell, a retired State Department official who handled the Rwanda portfolio at the time and has not allied with a presidential candidate, confirmed that a U.S. military intervention was not considered in policy deliberations, as did several senior Clinton administration officials with first-hand knowledge who declined to be identified.

Clinton has previously described her role in the Northern Ireland peace process as meeting with women's groups to encourage them to build a political climate for peace.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, who was the lead U.S. negotiator, said Clinton's visits were "very helpful."

"She was especially involved in encouraging women to get involved in the peace process," which was a "significant factor" in the agreement, Mitchell said in an interview.

But Tim Pat Coogan, an Irish historian who has written extensively on the conflict in Northern Ireland, said the first lady's visits were not decisive in the negotiating breakthroughs in Northern Ireland.

"It was a nice thing to see her there, with the women's groups. It helped, I suppose," Coogan said. "But it was ancillary to the main thing. It was part of the stage effects, the optics.

"There were all kinds of peace movements, women's movements throughout the 'Troubles.' But it was more about the clout of Bill Clinton," added Coogan, who said Clinton administration decisions to grant visas to leaders of the Irish Republican Army's political wing and appoint a U.S. negotiator were the keys to changing the political climate.

Beijing speech

One of Clinton's most noteworthy forays onto the foreign stage came in 1995, when she delivered a speech at the United Nations' women's conference in Beijing. That speech was widely noted and hailed as a bold call for women's rights, especially because Clinton explicitly spoke out against forced abortion and other practices of the host country.

"In the years since, I have met many women from many places who tell me they were at Beijing, or had friends who were, or who were inspired by the conference to launch initiatives," Albright wrote in her 2003 memoir.

The speech might never have happened if the first lady had not pressed for it, said one former Clinton administration official sympathetic to her candidacy who traveled with her and Albright to Beijing. The administration was conflicted about whether Hillary Clinton should go to Beijing at all because of the regime's record on human rights.

"Yet she was determined to go and was convinced that her going would send a very strong signal of support for human rights," said the official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named. "Everyone at the end of the process almost certainly would have said, 'How could we be so foolish to question the wisdom of the trip?'"

Still, Rice questioned whether that trip amounted to the kind of preparation for a global crisis that Clinton has claimed.

"How does going to Beijing and giving a speech show crisis management? There was no crisis. And there was nothing to manage," Rice said.

Macedonia visit

In 1999, Clinton visited Albanian refugee camps in Macedonia during the NATO bombing campaign to force Slobodan Milosevic's troops out of Kosovo. Macedonia had sealed its borders in an attempt to stop the arrival of refugees but, under Western pressure, reopened them the day before Clinton visited the camps.

A former Clinton administration official sympathetic to her candidacy said her presence "played a very important role in helping to shore up support for the Kosovars."

But Ivo Daalder, a former Clinton NSC official with responsibility for the Balkans and author of a history of the Kosovo conflict, said the border opening had nothing to do with her negotiating skills.

"It was her coming that helped. But she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations," said Daalder, an Obama supporter. "This had nothing to do with her competence."

Original here

Former Irish Minister: Clinton Irish Peace Claims 'Silly'

Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a "wee bit silly" for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.

  • Full coverage of the US Elections 2008
  • David Trimble: Hillary Clinton mere "cheerleader" in Ireland


  • Hillary Clinton with the Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness after their meeting in Washington last year



    Hillary Clinton with the Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness

    "I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around," he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player."

    Mrs Clinton has made Northern Ireland key to her claims of having extensive foreign policy experience, which helped her defeat Barack Obama in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday after she presented herself as being ready to tackle foreign policy crises at 3am.

    "I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland," she told CNN on Wednesday. But negotiators from the parties that helped broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 told The Daily Telegraph that her role was peripheral and that she played no part in the gruelling political talks over the years.

    Lord Trimble shared the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume, leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, in 1998. Conall McDevitt, an SDLP negotiator and aide to Mr Hume during the talks, said: "There would have been no contact with her either in person or on the phone. I was with Hume regularly during calls in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement when he was taking calls from the White House and they were invariably coming from the president."


    Central to Mrs Clinton’s claim of an important Northern Ireland role is a meeting she attended in Belfast in with a group of women from cross-community groups. "I actually went to Northern Ireland more than my husband did," she said in Nashua, New Hampshire on January 6th.

    "I remember a meeting that I pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall there, bringing together for the first time Catholics and Protestants from both traditions, having them sitting a room where they had never been before with each other because they don’t go to school together, they don’t live together and it was only in large measure because I really asked them to come that they were there.

    "And I wasn’t sure it was going to be very successful and finally a Catholic woman on one side of the table said, ’You know, every time my husband leaves for work in the morning I worry he won’t come home at night.

    "And then a Protestant woman on the other side said, ’Every time my son tries to go out at night I worry he won’t come home again’. And suddenly instead of seeing each other as caricatures and stereotypes they saw each other as human beings and the slow, hard work of peace-making could move forward."

    There is no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall, though Mrs Clinton attended a ceremony there when her husband turned on the Christmas tree lights in November 1995. The former First Lady appears to be referring a 50-minute event the same day, arranged by the US Consulate, the same day at the Lamp Lighter Café on the city’s Ormeau Road.

    The "Belfast Telegraph" reported the next day that the café meeting was crammed with reporters, cameramen and Secret Service agents. Conversation "seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times" and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew "so nice and hot".



    Hillary Clinton meeting with Belfast women
    in 1995 and the teapot she admired



    Hillary Clinton meeting with Belfast women in 1995 and the teapot she admired


    Among those attending were women from groups representing single parents, relationship counsellors, youth workers and a cultural society. In her 2003 autobiography "Living History", Mrs Clinton wrote about the meeting in some detail but made no claim that it was significant.

    Rather than it being the first time the women had met, Mrs Clinton wrote: "Because they were willing to work across the religious divide, they had found common ground." Mary Fox, the wife of a former IRA prisoner and one of the seven women at the meeting, said she had been there on behalf of the Footprints community centre. "It was quite a political change for the women’s sector after the visit of Hillary Clinton. We would love to see her as president. She spoke to each of us and was very interested in our work. She was lovely."

    Mr McDevitt said: "I’ve always had a theory that these people were already well networked. Maybe they needed a bit of bringing together and she [Mrs Clinton] was an ideal focus point." Once a peace deal was in place, Mrs Clinton supported women politicians and was always available if they visited Washington "to give them a pat on the back, give them moral support", he added.

    "So in a classic woman politicky sort of way I think she was active...She was certainly investing some time, no doubt about it. Whether she was involved on the issue side I think probably not." Some of the people Mrs Clinton met went on to help found the Women’s Coalition, which took part in the Good Friday talks. Lord Trimble said: "The Women’s Coalition will think they were important. Other people beg to differ."

    Steven King, a negotiator with Lord Trimble’s Ulster Unionist Party, argued that Mrs Clinton might even have helped delay the chances of peace. "She was invited along to some pre-arranged meetings but I don’t think she exactly brought anybody together that hadn’t been brought together already," he said. Mrs Clinton was "a cheerleader for the Irish republican side of the argument", he added.

    "She really lost all credibility when on Bill Clinton’s last visit to Northern Ireland [in December 2000] when she hugged and kissed [Sinn Fein leaders] Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness."

    Responding to inquiries from this newspaper, Hillary Clinton’s campaign issued a statement from Mr Hume. "I am quite surprised that anyone would suggest that Hillary Clinton did not perform important foreign policy work as First Lady," the statement said.

    "I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland. She visited Northern Ireland, met with very many people and gave very decisive support to the peace process.

    "There is no doubt that the people of Northern Ireland think very positively of Hillary Clinton’s support for our peace process, due to her visits to Northern Ireland and her meetings with so many people. In private she made countless calls and contacts, speaking to leaders and opinion makers on all sides, urging them to keep moving forward."

    Original here

    Obama's TOUGH Mississippi radio ad

    Obama began running a radio ad in Mississippi using Hillary's comments she used about Mississippi in October.

    It is a very tough one but it is accurate.

    http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/...

    As we know the Hillary campaign has said some derogatory things about Mississippi and Red states in general. As a result, in the ad former Governor Mabus explains why Obama is the better of the two Democratic candidates because he can unite the nation and win in November.

    Here is the ad:

    "You know, now that Hillary Clinton is campaigning here in Mississippi, she likes to say how important we are," Mabus says in the ad. "But just a few months ago when she was campaigning in Iowa, she told them she was shocked Iowa could be ranked with Mississippi on anything. And her campaign even called voters in states like Mississippi 'second class'.

    "Obama will unite not divide", Mabus continues. "He'll take on special interest and not take their money. And he'll practice his Christian faith by respecting us."

    Wow, this is one very tough ad.

    Original here

    David Plouffe: Clinton One Of "Most Secretive Politicians In America Today"


    The Obama campaign is returning to the issue of Clinton's secrecy today, after spending a conference call yesterday lambasting the lack of tax returns provided by the New York Senator. In a conference call, campaign manager David Plouffe had this today, via Politico:

    "Behind closed doors, they're trying to prevent the American people from evaluating [Clinton's White House] experience," he said. "You have to wonder whether she'll be open and honest with the American people as president."


    He also noted, again, that Clinton doesn't need to wait until April 15 to release the last six years of tax returns.

    Clinton is "one of the most secretive politicians in America today," he said.

    In addition to the issue of tax returns, the statements came as a response to a USA Today article reporting that the Clinton library was withholding information about pardons made near the end of President Clinton's tenure:

    Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.


    The archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests.

    Original here

    Texas Two-Step Leaving Dems Flat-Footed

    The Clinton campaign may go to court. The Obama campaign wants to take its delegates and get out of town before sundown. The Texas Two-Step is overheating an already fired up Democratic presidential contest.

    The Newsblog mentioned this on Wednesday but there is a very good chance that winning the Texas primary might not mean that Sen. Hillary Clinton gets to take away the most delegates. That because after the primary -- which she won 51-47 percent -- come the caucuses and it looks like Sen. Barack Obama may win those.

    Here's where the delegate count gets funky. NPR's Wade Goodwyn and Robert Siegel report that Clinton's primary win means she snapped up 65 delegates to Obama's 61. Not a big difference, but a difference nonetheless. But if the numbers in the caucus vote hold up, then Obama will win 37 more pledged delegates to Clinton's 30. So Obama would have 98 delegates and Clinton 95 and he would leave Texas with three more delegates that Clinton

    But wait, there's more. It might not all get sorted out until summer ...

    "The end result of the Texas caucuses was that attendees picked delegates. These delegates will then go on to attend a county convention in late March to caucus. Then, the delegates from the county convention must go to the state convention and hold another caucus. The whole Texas process will not be wrapped up until June."

    The Clinton camp is none too happy about this development and is threatening to take legal action because it said it won the state. The Obama campaign is trying to retroactively claim victory in a place which many news organizations had already reported that Clinton won.

    Somewhere John McCain is smiling.

    Original here

    BREAKING NEWS: Child in Clinton’s “3am Phone Ad” supports Obama

    BREAKING NEWS: Child in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s “3am Phone Ad” supports Sen. Barack Obama.

    Photo taken from Clinton “Children” Ad

    Casey Knowles, a High School Senior in Washington state, recently discovered she was one of the sleeping children in Clinton’s controversial “Children” ad appearing prior to the Texas primaries.

    Knowles, a supporter of Barack Obama was shocked that she had contributed to the national security message of a candidate that she passionately opposes.

    When asked by The New Argument, this is what Knowles had to say about her appearance in Clinton’s ad:

    “While I love Hillary, I would much rather hear Barack Obama’s voice at the other end of the phone at 3am. Its hilarious and ironic that the child in Hillary’s ad is now of voting age and not her supporter. I’ve been campaigning for Barack since October and was a caucus precinct captain. I’ve been a very avid advocate of his and recruited a lot of folks to caucus for him in January. He’s inspired and mobilized so many already, he’s refreshing and quite simply the best option for people who want to change this country.”

    Original here

    Montana Governor explains why Real ID sucks

    Chris says: "Here's interview with the governer of Montana on the Real ID that's being forced down states' throats by Homeland Security.

    "This is the funniest interview I've heard with an elected politician on a security-related issue. He completely calls the Federal Government on their bluff, and completely dismantles the usefulness of this act. Please, start with the first minute. It gets better from there."

    "We're putting up with the federal government on so many fronts, and nearly every month they come out with another hare-brained scheme ... to tell us that our life is going to be better if we just buckle under on some other kind of rule or regulation. And we usually just play along for a while. We ignore 'em for as long as we can. We try not to bring it to a head but if it comes to a head we found that it's best to tell 'em to go to Hell and run the state you wanna run your state.

    Unfortunately this time around they've really got a hare-brained scheme... almost all those hijackers on 9/11 would have qualified for a Real ID."

    Original here